A man described as an extreme survivalist is somewhere in a massive Canadian park bordering Minnesota and authorities have closed off several lakes to the public during the search for him, officials said Thursday.
Part of the 1.2 million-acre Quetico Provincial Park, north of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, was closed starting Wednesday afternoon as the search continued for Aaron N. King, 26.
King has been staying in Ely for the past several months before he crossed the border at a location other than an official port of entry, said Ontario Police Sgt. Matt LeBlanc.
LeBlanc and authorities said they are not concerned that King will harm someone but that “he has nothing” in terms of provisions or a canoe, and possibly not even shoes, that are needed in such remote surroundings of rugged terrain and towering cliffs.
“He’s an extreme survivalist,” LeBlanc said. “He doesn’t seem to have the necessary provisions to be undertaking an expedition.”
The closed area comprises only a tiny fraction of the park, roughly 6 miles square, said park Superintendent Trevor Gibb, who called the closure a mere “precaution” that was taken only “because we don’t know about this guy.”
Ely Police Sgt. Dennis Koponen said his department has had contact with King since early spring, with him “just being homeless, vagrant, asking for food and money and stuff.” Police never had to arrest or cite him, Koponen said.
At times, the sergeant added, King “scared people with his actions,” and his unkempt long hair and full beard may have added to their concerns. “He was kind of odd to some people,” looking through or past people as they said “Hi” to him, Koponen said.
King would bed down in a tent on the edge of Ely or in the woods, the sergeant said. “He’d make his way over to our community college [Vermilion] and act like a student, get a handout, use the facilities and the bathroom,” he said.
Koponen said King “hitched a ride with some people going in [to Quetico Park] camping, and he doesn’t have any permits or stuff like that.”
The park announced it has closed the following areas to public access: Brent Lake, Darkwater Lake, Darkwater River between Brent and Darkwater Lakes, William Lake, Conmee Lake, Suzanette Lake, McIntyre Lake, Scarlett Lake, Cone Lake and unnamed lakes south of Brent Lake en route to McIntyre Lake.
“Travel on these lakes and camping/occupying land on the shores of these lakes is prohibited,” the park announcement read.
King was last spotted near Brent and Crooked lakes, which are slightly to the west and south of the park’s center. King is described as white, with scraggly reddish-blond hair and a beard. He is believed to be wearing a green long-sleeved shirt and olive-colored pants.
If visitors see someone matching this description, “please stay clear and do not engage him,” the announcement said.