Corolla Wild Horse Herd Expansion Bill Moves to Senate

A bill that would expand North Carolina's Corolla wild horse herd numbers received universal support from U.S. House of Representatives members on Feb. 6.

Currently, more than 100 feral horses in the Corolla herd reside on the Currituck Outer Banks. Of those, 70% reside on lands owned by private individuals and corporations. The remainder of the animals reside on a 7,500-acre sanctuary in the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge located on the northern tip of the state's Outer Banks.

Under an existing management agreement between the Interior Department, the State of North Carolina, Currituck County, and the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF, which manages the animals), the maximum number of horses allowed in the herd is 60. Some wild horse advocates have argued that capping the herd population at 60 endangers the herd's genetic viability.

Last year, North Carolina Congressman Walter B. Jones introduced H.R. 306, The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act, which would establish a new public-private management agreement plan for the Corolla horses. The new plan would allow a herd population of not less than 110 and not more than 130 horses with a target herd population of between 120 and 130 animals. The Act also allows for the introduction of a small number of wild horses from the Cape Lookout National Seashore, also known as the Shackelford Banks, as necessary to maintain the Corolla herd's genetic viability. More than 110 wild horses currently reside at the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

On Feb. 6, members of the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H. R. 306.

Currituck National Wildlife Refuge manager Mike Hoff was unavailable for comment.

Karen McCalpin, CWHF executive director, said the bill's advancement represents a positive step toward ensuring the herd's future: "DNA testing has indicated that the Corolla herd has one of the lowest levels of genetic diversity of any wild herd, and science says that the minimum population range should be 120 to 130. The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act ensures their genetic and physical health for generations to come."

H.R. 306 now moves on to the Senate for review.

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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