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Hurricane Fiona: What’s happening to wild horses on Sable Island?

Long-maned, shaggy wild horses grazing freely on the sandy grasslands of crescent-shaped Sable Island in the North Atlantic are set to take a beating from a powerful storm expected to hit eastern Canada this weekend. end.

Hurricane Fiona, which was heading north after cutting a destructive path through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, may be one of the worst storms to hit Atlantic Canada in years.

Storms are not uncommon in the region and they usually cross quickly, but Fiona is expected to affect a very large area and bring long periods of stormy weather, Canadian Hurricane Center meteorologist Bob Robichaud said in a briefing.

Fiona, which is expected to be classified as a post-tropical storm when it makes landfall in Nova Scotia, could bring very strong winds, heavy rain and flooding to several provinces in eastern Canada.

As of mid-Thursday, Fiona was located about 1,800 km (1,118 miles) south-southwest of Halifax, capital of the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.

Off Nova Scotia is Sable Island National Park Reserve, a narrow strip of dunes and grasslands managed by Parks Canada. Here, around 500 Sable Island horses roam alongside the largest breeding colony of gray seals in the world.

All scheduled visitor flights were canceled while a small team of officials prepared to shelter in place on the island, with team members busy securing supplies and equipment to minimize the possible damage, said Parks Canada representative Jennifer Nicholson.

But the horses, which are not native to the sandbar and believed to have been brought over by European sailors in the 18th century, have virtually no natural cover on the island.

“Over the past two centuries, horses on Sable Island have adapted remarkably well to their environment. In bad weather, the horses act instinctively and seek shelter in groups downwind of the dunes for protection,” said Nicholas.

Fiona could be “a bit stronger” than 2019’s Hurricane Dorian, Robichaud said. Dorian slammed into Halifax as an intense post-tropical storm, knocking down trees, knocking out power and blasting through a large construction crane.

Environment Canada has issued a storm warning for much of Atlantic Canada, as well as parts of Quebec, Canada’s second most populous province.

(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Ottawa; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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