Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Today was right up there with my wedding day and childbirth. It was like winning the lottery, Christmas and the Super Bowl for wild horses! Today, the United States House of Representatives unanimously passed the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act. This legislation mandates that the wild horse herd of Corolla, NC never drops below 110 and is capped at 130. It also allows for introductions of horses from the wild herd on Cape Lookout National Seashore (Shackleford Banks). Why is this such a big deal? The Corolla herd is teetering on the brink of extinction and is listed as critically endangered by the American Livestock Breed Conservancy and the Equus Survival Trust. DNA testing has indicated that the Corolla herd has one of the lowest levels of genetic diversity of any wild herd. The current management plan, crafted in 1997, calls for a maximum of 60! This number was not selected based on science but was simply a number upon which all the parties involved could agree. Well, now there IS science and that science says that the minimum population range should be 120 to 130.
Why must this number be legislated? Because one of the stakeholder’s involved in the management plan will not agree to allow the increase in herd size needed to ensure their continued viability. That stakeholder is United States Fish & Wildlife Service who owns about 3,000 acres of the total land accessible to the wild horses. Even though in 6 consecutive years of aerial counts, the maximum number of horse on their land was 35 (and one year it was 0!), and even though we now have a scientifically recommended herd size, they have refused to agree to a change in the maximum herd size.
The registered Spanish Mustangs of the Currituck Outer Banks are a rare and ancient breed. They are also now the North Carolina State Horse. The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act ensures their genetic and physical health for generations to come. Our heartfelt gratitude to bill sponsor Congressman Walter Jones, cosponsors, Representatives David Price, NC; Ed Whitfield, KY; Howard Coble, NC; Madeleine Bordallo, GU; Betty Jones, OH; Frank Pallone, NJ; Pedro Pierluisi, PR; James Moran, VA; and Gerry Connolly, VA. Thanks also to the Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, “Doc Hastings,” and so many other legislators who supported this bill. Thank you also to every person who took the time to write to their Representatives and urge them to support this bill.
On to the Senate – the last step before it becomes law. Help us save the horses of kings – let your federal Senator know that you support the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act and that you are asking them to support it as well. Be a voice for the wild horses. Your voice was heard in the House of Representatives. The horses are depending on all of us.