U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed limiting the herd size in the Outer Banks of North Carolina from the current number of 115 horses to 60 horses. Since this population of horses is isolated, genetic diversity is limited and the health of the horses is vulnerable.
HR 5482 was introduced to Congress on June 8, 2010. The purpose of this bill is to support a viable population of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina's Outer Banks by maintaining a wild horse population of 120-130 individuals
Brought to North America in the 1500s by Spanish colonialists, the horses survived the harsh conditions of the New World while the Spanish could not. In their 500-year tenure, wild horses have become an American symbol of freedom and wilderness.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service views these wild horses as a non-native nuisance. Acts toward the horses have been hostile rather than science-based. Fences have been constructed to keep the horses out of the majority of Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. The argument is that the horses are destructive to fragile sand dune habitat, limiting resources for protected wildlife. Yet the impact of human development cannot be discounted. Human expansion has taken up much of the formerly wild landscape, pushing the wild horses to the northern reaches of the Outer Banks on sanctuary land. Over 1300 homes are now in the area that only has 150 year-round residents.
The bill also proposes the introduction of some mares from the Shackleford Banks to the south to increase genetic diversity. The bill is currently in review. Please contact your congressional representative to urge their support in passing HR 5482.