Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wild Horses of the Outer Banks

The wild horses in Corolla have been a staple of the Outer Banks since the mid 1500’s. These horses have been a symbol of the rugged but picturesque landscape of the area. However, due to the increase of inhabitation in the area, the wild horses have almost vanished.

Before the increased development in the 1980’s and 1990’s, wild horses roamed free around the grassy areas and beaches of the northern barrier islands. Tourists and locals would commonly see the horses roaming along the side of the road, (the only road in town). At first the horses were not bothered too much by the increasing presence of people and buildings. By the mid 1980’s, horses were frequently rummaging through garbage, lounging under cottage decks, and actually walking through the grocery store’s electronic door.

As time passed, the horses started to become unfriendly. Occasionally tourists would get kicked and bit by them when attempting to feed or pet them. As the human population grew, the horses became even more dangerous. In 1984, the road between Corolla and Duck was made public. Within four years, 17 horses were killed by motorists. In 1989, in an attempt to protect the horses after three pregnant horses were killed, a group of local citizens founded the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. Public support was immense; leading the county to pass an ordinance to help protect the wild horses from any harm.

In 1995, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund erected a fence that spread a mile and a half. This provided the wild horses with more than 1600 acres of public and private land. Many of the wild horses strayed around the fence to Virginia and some snuck back into the village of Corolla. Some horses found a way to stay out, but most were herded back behind the fence.

If you visit the area today, you will not find many wild horses. There are between 50 and 100 wild horses that remain in the area. To find the few remaining wild horses, you will have to travel to the northern part of Currituck Beach.

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