Every year, tourists flock to the beauty of the Outer Banks. There’s sun and sand, but the biggest tourist attraction has always been the area’s herd of wild horses. For generations, a herd of feral Colonial Spanish Mustangs has roamed freely on the northernmost Currituck Outer Banks. The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is the organization charged with protecting and preserving these beautiful animals, and they recently took to social media to share an important message.
Defined as a cultural treasure by the state of North Carolina, the Outer Banks wild horses are protected by state law. They cannot be captured or harmed, and county ordinances also protect the herd’s natural habitat and health. There are several local ordinances put in place to safeguard the horses from human interference. It is illegal to feed the horses, lure them, or ride them. It's also prohibited to get too close, but that rule is often ignored.
The Wild Horse Ordinance of Currituck County prohibits all persons from getting within 50 feet of any wild horse. It’s a rule put in place to protect both horses and humans. Every year, however, Corolla Wild Horse Fund receives several reports of tourists approaching horses.
With the summer season starting, wild horse advocates want to remind Outer Bank visitors that local laws should not be ignored. Earlier this week, they posted a photo of a young beach-goer approaching a wild stallion and clearly violating the 50-foot rule.
While many of the horses appear friendly, it’s important to remember that they are unpredictable. They kick, bite, and charge, and interacting with humans puts their survival at risk.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund said on Facebook that the stallion in their photograph was exhausted and on high-alert. After battling with other horses for days, the last thing he needed was up-close attention from a human. Being forced to interact with humans is stressful and puts their mental and physical health at risk.
No matter how cute they look, and even if they make the first move, wild horses are not pets or zoo animals. They are not at the beach to entertain tourists, and we all have a responsibility to protect and advocate for their well-being.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund states on their website that it is always the human’s responsibility to maintain the 50-foot buffer area between horses. It doesn’t matter if the horse walks toward you or seems interested in attention. The 50-foot ordinance remains in effect at all times, and any violation is punishable by law.
Anyone who witnesses a person or a group of people harassing the horses is encouraged to call the Currituck County sheriff’s dispatch office directly.
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Featured image via Facebook/Corolla Wild Horse Fund