Friday, May 15, 2009

100 Reasons to NOT Touch or Feed Our Wild Horses

Our current herd count is 100. That is about 30 short of the minimum we need to maintain the genetic diversity and physical health of the wild horses. It is about to get smaller.

Last night I got several calls regarding a stallion that was lying on a sand road in Carova (the northernmost development on the north beach). He had been in the area grazing all day but had been lying on Ocean Pearl Road for about an hour. The initial caller wasn’t too concerned at first because the horses lie down in the sand and rest all the time. What caused him the most concern was watching a woman walk right up to the stallion, scratch him on the forehead, and the stallion made no attempt to get up or show signs that he didn’t welcome the attention. That is not normal behavior for a wild animal. That is what convinced him that something was wrong with the horse.

Long story short – the stallion was not sick or injured - but he is going to have to be captured and removed from the beach anyway. Why? Because he clearly has no fear of humans. He has no fear of humans because it is most likely that he has been approached and or fed so many times that he accepts, and perhaps now looks for, attention from humans. Now this horse has become a danger to humans. If he isn’t already, he will now approach humans and demand to be fed. In 2006 we removed another young stallion because he approached a resident out for a walk, demanded to be fed, and knocked the woman down because she had nothing to give him. Luckily she was only severely bruised. Now he is a gelding awaiting adoption and can never return to the beach that was his home.

Last year we found a young mare dead by a canal. Necropsy results identified alfa toxin poisoning as the cause of death. The horse apparently ate moldy hay that some well meaning but misguided person put out for the horses.

We have only 100 horses. We cannot afford to lose a single horse from the already dwindling gene pool. IT IS AGAINST THE LAW IN CURRITUCK COUNTY TO APPROACH, PET, OR FEED A WILD HORSE. There are 100 good reasons for this.

The horses have a specialized diet that has kept them healthy for nearly five centuries. Our volunteers have found apples, carrots, celery, spinach and lettuce that is being left out or fed directly to wild horses. The other consequence of feeding is painful colic or death but that is another topic in itself.

The link to the Wild Horse Ordinance is on our home page. Spread the word. Save our wild horses. Respect the Wild Horse Ordinance.


    I would like to volunteer to help out with an idea I have. There are THOUSANDS of rental homes occupied each week by well-meaning folks who might have gone to a local petting zoo where it was encouraged to bring carrots, etc. to fed the horses there, so when they come to the Outer Banks, they just don't know any better. LET'S MAKE SURE THESE VISITORS KNOW THE COLD HARD FACTS! I want to work with every rental company (i.e. Twiddy, Southern Shores, Resort Realty, etc.) to have information just as you wrote above POSTED in each and every rental house, or at the VERY LEAST handed out to every person when they come to get their rental keys/packet, etc. (IT SHOULD BE POSTED IN THE HUNDRED OF HOMES IN THE 4X4 area!!) This is a relatively minor thing to do, and it could potentially save the lives of many of these beautiful creatures...not to mention allowing those horses who live there now to get to continue that precious way of life. I want to help in any way possible, I am sure there are others who will pitch in. Can we get this done asap???

  2. Heather, thank you for your concern and suggestions. No one is more frustrated than we are but there HAVE been some new developments that look promising. Currituck County is considering an AM radio frequency that people driving on the beach or staying in the 4 wheel drive area can tune in to hear information about how to drive on the beach, where to park, the Wild Horse Ordinance, etc. This would play on a continuous loop.
    I appreciate your willingness to help and our staff has discussed at length how to best get information into rental homes and the hands of visitors. The challenge is the new 50 to 60 thousand people who arrive each weekend. We have neither the finances or the physical capability to produce and distribute the volume of information that it would take to reach everyone.
    Twiddy & Company has recently done something that I hope other realtors will duplicate. They recently made a video for their website and YouTube that is directed to those renting houses in the 4 wheel drive area. It addresses beach driving regulations as well as the Wild Horse Ordinance. This is a start and I hope that the other companies will follow their lead.
    The best thing that anyone vacationing here can do is to educate other visitors when they see them violating the wild Horse Ordinance. Most people just don't think that what they are doing is harmful to the horses. They don't think beyond their week's stay. Unfortunately it happens again the next week and the week after that.Another way to help -if you come across a video posted on YouTube that shows people clearly violating the Wild Horse Ordinance, please let the Corolla Wild Horse Fund know as well as posting a comment asking them to take the video off because it encourages others to break the law as well.
    Thanks for caring so much Heather. Karen McCalpin, Director, Corolla Wild Horse Fund