Corolla Wild Horse Herd Expansion Bill Advances

Corolla Wild Horse Herd Expansion Bill Advances

The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act would allow a herd of not less than 110 free-roaming wild horses in and around the refuge, with a target population of between 120 and 130 free-roaming wild horses.

Photo: Corolla Wild Horse Fund

Federal legislation that would allow the Corolla Wild Horse herd to grow larger advanced this week when the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources approved it.

The feral horses in the Corolla herd reside in Currituck, N.C. Two-thirds of the animals roam lands owned by private individuals and corporations. The remaining one-third roam the 7,500-acre sanctuary in the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge located on the northern tip of North Carolina's Outer Banks. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages the refuge.

Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF) Executive Director Karen McCalpin said that a 2010 aerial census revealed that 115 animals reside on the island, although more recent aerial surveys indicate this number could be as high as 120-140 animals.

The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act, HR 306, introduced earlier this year by North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones, would allow a herd of not less than 110 free-roaming wild horses in and around the refuge, with a target population of between 120 and 130 free-roaming wild horses.

The bill also calls for the introduction of a small number of free-roaming wild horses from the herd at Cape Lookout National Seashore as is necessary to maintain the herd's genetic viability and allows the horses access to the entire Currituck National Wildlife Refuge including portions currently fenced off to prohibit the horses' access.

On Oct. 5 members of the House Committee on Natural Resources approved the bill.

McCalpin said the bill's passage is crucial to the herd's genetic health and long-term survival. Conversely, wildlife biologist Terra Rentz said increasing the herd could disrupt the island's sensitive ecosystem.

HR 306 now moves to House floor for a full vote. If passed, it will move on to the Senate for further consideration.

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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