A first effort by the P.E.I. government to find a new owner for Buffalo Land Provincial Park has failed, leading the government to consider selling the animals to someone in another province.
Buffalo Land, in eastern P.E.I., was founded after the province of Alberta provided a small herd as a gift in 1973. About two dozen buffalo graze on 40 hectares of pasture and woodland. The park does not get a lot of use, and it costs $15,000 to $40,000 a year to keep the animals. Earlier this year, the government put out a request for proposals for the park and the herd.
Susan Sorrie lives across the road from the park, and often visits to watch the herd grazing.
"I think it's a real unique aspect of our community, a real nice surprise to people when they discover it," said Sorrie.
"I'd miss them if they weren't here."
The deadline for proposals has passed, and none came in.
"Now we are left with the unenviable situation of trying to make a decision on what we do, and we'll explore all options," said Tourism Minister Rob Henderson.
Those options include a more active search for a local buyer, or selling the heard to be shipped off to another province.
On Wednesday tourists from Ontario and Boston were at the park to see them. Liz Burke of Boston has a summer home in the area, and goes to see them every year.
"It's one of the charming eccentricities of P.E.I. that you come to see buffalo," said Burke.
It's not just about tourism. Every fall a few of the herd are culled. Local butcher Island Taylored Meats gets some of that meat, and already has a waiting list of more than 40 people waiting for burgers, steaks and stew meat.
"We've tried getting it out of Ontario, and it's just not the same. It's just way, way, way too expensive," said Diane Taylor.
"It would be a shame to lose it."
The province said if they don't get a deal in the next couple months, it will keep the buffalo around for at least another winter.
For mobile device users: What should the province do with Buffalo Land Provincial Park?