Thursday, May 26, 2011

People and Cars and Flies – Oh My!

Just as Dorothy had challenges in her quest to find the ruby slippers in the Wizard of OZ (lions and tigers and bears – oh my!), our wild horses face challenges in their quest to get to the beach when the wind is from the south or west and the flies become unbearable behind the dunes.
Before the days of 1300 plus houses and a thousand cars per day on the beach, a trip to the beach for a harem of horses was easy. They rarely saw a vehicle or a person. Today, a harem on the way to the beach must not only negotiate cars traveling up and down the beach, they must weave their way through parked vehicles, chairs, beach umbrellas, volley ball nets, corn hole games, dogs, and people, in order to get to the shoreline. Once they finally get there, they are often surrounded by well-meaning people who mistakenly think that they are tame because they don’t run from them.
Our wild horses are TOLERANT but they are NOT tame. Getting too close and surrounding a harem, cutting off their escape route puts great stress on the wild horses – especially if there are babies. In addition – IT’S AGAINST THE LAW. In Currituck County, the Wild Horse Ordinance makes it illegal to intentionally come within 50 feet (about 6 car lengths) of a wild horse. You can find yourself in the middle of a stallion fight in a heartbeat and they will not care if you are in the way. Wild horses will also bite and kick no matter how quiet and tame they seem. Remember – they tolerate people because they see thousands of them every summer. That does NOT make them tame.
Surviving as a wild animal is tough. Please don’t put any more stress on the wild horses than they already have by getting too close. It is also against the law to feed them. Some of the horses can tolerate nonnative foods like apples and carrots – but many cannot. There is no way to tell which ones are which. If you feed them, you put them at high risk for extremely painful and sometimes fatal colic.
Please help educate others about protecting our wild horses. Respect the wild horses and the Ordinances that protect them, don’t speed on the beach – and certainly don’t drink and drive. Two beautiful stallions have lost their lives in the last two years to drivers who had been drinking. One was on Memorial Day weekend. We can’t do it alone – we need YOUR help to keep them wild and free.

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