Monday, January 31, 2011
Why is the Federal Legislation Critical?
This is a Corolla wild horse with a locked patella. It is becoming more and more frequent in the Corolla herd. The wild horses that live on Shackleford Banks rarely have this problem. Why? Because they have been managed at a healthy genetic level of 120 - 130 since the passage of the Shackleford Banks Act into law in 1998. Horses on Shackleford that are most closely related to one another are removed in order to keep genetic diversity high. If we did that – we would have very few horses left because the Corolla herd has been too small for too many years and consequently has become too closely related to one another.
Why don’t we manage at 120 – 130 in Corolla? Because all our requests to have our formal management plan changed from a maximum herd size of 60 to a minimum herd size of 120 – 130 have been denied by the Department of the Interior. H.R. 306 (formerly H.R. 5482), the Corolla Wild Horse Protection Act, mirrors the Shackleford Banks Act with one important exception - it allows for the introduction of mares from Shackleford Banks. This would immediately breathe new genes into our dying gene pool. It is unfortunate that we must legislate what is not only scientifically right – but morally right.
The Shackleford horses live on 3,000 acres, have been managed at a target of 120 – 130 (with never less than 110) for the last 12 years, and with no documented negative impact to the National Park. The Corolla horses have access to nearly 8,000 acres. Only a third of that is owned by the Department of Interior – the rest is private land. It is not an issue of lack of carrying capacity to support 120 – 130 horses.
H.R. 306 has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee and is awaiting further action. This legislation is nothing short of critical if we are to stop the continued genetic meltdown of the wild horses of Corolla. Without H.R. 306, there is a real danger that the North Carolina State Horse will be gone from the Currituck Outer Banks within a few generations.
The Corolla Wild Horse extends our heartfelt gratitude to sponsor of the bill, Congressman Walter B. Jones (R-NC) and co-sponsors Howard Coble (R-NC), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), David Price (D-NC), and Ed Whitfield (R-KY).