Irene 'Just Another Storm' for Feral Outer Banks Ponies

Irene 'Just Another Storm' for Feral Outer Banks Ponies

The Corolla wild ponies will handle Hurricane Irene just as they do any other storm, said Karen McCalpin, Corolla Wild Horse Fund executive director.

Photo: Corolla Wild Horse Fund

While humans prepare to evacuate North Carolina's Outer Banks in advance of Hurricane Irene's arrival, the feral ponies that inhabit the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge will stay put and weather the storm.

More than 100 feral horses in the Corolla herd reside on a 7,500-acre sanctuary in the refuge located on the northern tip of North Carolina's Outer Banks. The refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF) manages the horses.

Karen McCalpin, CWHF executive director, said the feral horses have survived similar storms for centuries. During severe weather events such as Hurricane Irene, the Corolla herd horses travel to higher ground near ridges located on the refuge, group together, and turn their backs to the wind, McCalpin explained.

Still, debris strewn by high winds put the animals at risk, she said, as does heavy rain that can cause flooding and even sweep young horses into canals also located on the refuge.

As soon as weather conditions permit, McCalpin and CWHF's herd manager will peruse the refuge area to check on the horses.

In the meantime, McCalpin believes instinct and experience will bring the horses through whatever challenges Irene presents: "I have some concern about the babies, but these horses have been dealing with these storms for five centuries. They know what to do. They're survivors."

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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