Editorial: Coast’s wild horse herd deserves protection

Outer banks wild horses and development

Be they in the East or the West, ALL wild horses deserve protection! ~ HfH

From: Winston-Salem Journal

Outer banks wild horses and developmentAs coastal wild horses live their untamed lives, they face challenges to their very existence. It’s time for our lawmakers to take action to preserve these natural wonders.

For hundreds of years, Spanish mustangs moved freely along the Outer Banks. In these days of heavy development, they roam around the northern Outer Banks town of Corolla, which only in the last several years has seen that development.

Tourists still cherish the sight of the horses. Several tour companies make money off them. But they are now threatened by overexposure to man and federal policies that leave them severely inbred, The News and Observer of Raleigh reported recently.

Some tourists, perhaps not accustomed to nature, have taken to trying to chase the horses down for photographs or to feed them foods that, while fine for people, are sometimes deadly for horses.

When approached by authorities, some tourists have reacted belligerently, the News and Observer reported. And federal policies limiting the number of horses – roughly 100 now – has led to dangerous inbreeding.

Some federal authorities would like to see the herd shrink even further; they describe the herd as pests that compete with native wildlife species for food and fresh water. If so, they’re pests that have been part of the landscape for 500 years.

Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina sponsored a bill last year that passed the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously that would allow the herd to grow to 130; a few horses from the Shackleford Banks, on the southern tip of the Outer Banks, would be added to infuse some fresh genes into the herd. The bill has languished, though, in the Senate.

It should be passed. And better protection for the horses is needed as well, including stiff penalties for interfering with federally-protected wildlife.

These horses are beloved by many of North Carolina’s citizens, as well as visitors. They’re a remnant and reminder of a wilder past, and should be cared for and protected.

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AUTHOR: Amber Barnes
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