Atlantic Wildlife Institute more than doubles with land donation

Animals will now have a bit more space to safely roam near Sackville, N.B., thanks to the donation of nearly 150 acres of land from a single family.

Sears family of Sackville, N.B., gives nearly 150 acres of land on familial homestead

Norma, Wallie and Paula (left to right) donated a piece of their family's history to the Atlantic Wildlife Institute. (CBC)

Animals will now have a bit more space to safely roam near Sackville, N.B.

The Sears family has donated nearly 150 acres of land near Cookville to the Atlantic Wildlife Institute.

Wallie Sears, who once owned the land, said the intent was always to have the land passed down from generation to generation, but it became clear that wasn't in the property's future.

"We have two daughters and neither of them were really interested in keeping [the land,]" said Sears.

"What better thing to do than to turn it over to people who are totally committed to the environment."

Long time in the family

The almost 150-acre parcel of land in Cookville had been in the Sears family since 1865, but has been unoccupied since 1942. (Atlantic Wildlife Institute)

Sears said portions of the land had been in his family since 1865 when it was deeded to his grandfather to start a farm.

The property was expanded with the purchase of neighbouring parcels of land after the farm was passed down to Wallie Sears' father.

He moved into Sackville in 1942 and little activity occurred on the land after that.

Wallie Sears signed the land over to his daughter Paula, who had plans for the land, which ended up changing.

"My intention at that time was to build a home there someday and retire," said Paula.

The Sears family is donating 60 hectares of property in the Cookville area to the Atlantic Wildlife Institute. Jonna dropped by the institute to talk with both the donating family and with the institute operators. 9:54

"Life changes and I couldn't get the city girl out of my skin."

It was after this realization that Paula Sears attended an event at the Atlantic Wildlife Institute, where she was impressed by the operation.

"I was really impressed and impacted with the work that [the institute] do here," she said.

"It's just such an environmentally friendly property that is totally devoted to ecology."

It was after this that Paula discussed donating the land with the organization.

More than double

While the institute is still considering how to use the property, for the time being it will allow local wildlife to roam free. (Atlantic Wildlife Institute)

Pam Novak, a director of the institute, said they want to complete a bio-inventory to catalog all the plants and animals on the site.

She says the site could be used to build trails or house educational programs, but for now it will serve a role more like an animal sanctuary.

"It's good to know that we're protecting even just that much more space for the animals that do roam this area," said Novak.

Wallie's wife Norma said she's proud of her family for donating the land. She also said she's happy that her interactions with the property didn't extend past picking apples with her husband there.

"Thank god that he didn't decide to move me up there 60 years ago," said Norma.

With files from Information Morning Moncton