POOLES CORNER — A community group lobbying to save a Kings County buffalo herd is expressing skepticism about assurances from the province that it is nearing a deal with an interested buyer which will leave the park and herd intact.
Since an initial pair of buffalo came to Prince Edward Island as a gift from Alberta in 1973, a herd has inhabited the Buffaloland Provincial Park, a 100-acre property in Milltown Cross.
In May, the P.E.I. government announced it was seeking proposals from people looking to take over the park, which it said costs taxpayers more than $15,000 annually.
In response, a community group called Save Our Buffalo has worked to raise awareness in an effort to save the herd.
Their Facebook group has over 3,200 members, while an online petition has an additional 390 signatures.
They are also planning to sell memberships to the park in order to take over the operation.
Monday, the group held a meeting at Reds Corner to demonstrate community support in saving the park.
The meeting addressed the group’s skepticism of the government, said Jonathon Tsamantanis, who has worked to spearhead the campaign.
“We discussed why the government is telling us that everything is going to be fine with the park but will not reveal who they’re negotiating with or how this person will recoup their costs.”
Among those in attendance were Innovation Minister Allen Roach, Belfast-Murray River MLA Charlie McGeoghegan, Stratford-Kinlock MLA James Aylward, NDP Leader Mike Redmond, former Island Party leader Billy Cann and Charlottetown city councillor Mitchell Tweel.
The group says it was skeptical when Roach told them there was a group willing to pay the full cost of the park and leave it as is, Tsamantanis said.
“We asked Mr. Roach to please ask (Tourism Minister Robert) Henderson to reconsider and look at the community’s proposal. We have reservations about trusting them.”
The group is also looking at partnering with the Harvey Moore Wildlife Centre to further their cause since both groups have similar goals.
The group will continue to push their proposal to government, Tsamantanis said.
“Even if the government conveys this to another entity other than the community, we will be there to monitor and make sure everything happens as they said it would.”