N.C. senators introduce bill to preserve state’s wild horse population

Legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, Republicans of North Carolina, would require a new management plan that would protect wild horses that inhabit federal land in parts of North Carolina.

The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act would require the Fish and Wildlife Service, the state of North Carolina, Currituck County and the Corolla Wild Horse Fund to collaborate on a plan that ensures the responsible management of wild horses near Corolla and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

“The Corolla horses are one of our many natural state treasures and I am proud to introduce legislation that will provide for the preservation of these wild-roaming horses that have inhabited North Carolina for hundreds of years,” Burr said. “The beauty of the Corolla horses draws people from across North Carolina and the country to witness these wild animals in their natural habitat.”

The legislation would permit the introduction of a small number of free-roaming wild horses from the Cape Lookout National Seashore to ensure the genetic diversity of the wild horse population in and around the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. The bill also specifies that the Corolla Wild Horse Fund would pay for inspecting the health of the horses and maintaining records on the horses, among other initiatives.

The lineage of Corolla wild horses can be traced back to Spanish explorers who reached the Outer Banks in the 16th century and cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

“A cherished part of our state’s history and an admired attraction, thousands of tourists visit North Carolina’s beaches each year to witness the majestic nature of the Corolla horses,” Tillis said. “This legislation will take the necessary and proper steps in protecting the health and safety of the wild animals and their habitat, while encouraging continued tourism and economic investment for our local coastal communities.”

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), who introduced a House version of the bill, said it would ensure that the herd of free-roaming horses in Currituck County has the resources to survive long into the future.