Outer Banks Wild Horse Study

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Outer Banks Wild Horse Study

  The proper size of the wild horse herd on the Outer Banks continues to be a contentious subject. 

Currituck County officials, The Corolla Wild Horse Fund, and the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge have been debating the size of the herd for years.  The three parties agreed on a management plan in 1999 which set the limit of wild horses to 60, but as of September the count is up to 101.  The Wild Horse Fund feels the size of the herd needs to be increased to at least 120 to 130 to encourage long-term health.  A recent study conducted by a genetics expert indicates that the wild horses have a low genetic diversity stemming from the breeding patterns of a small herd; this low genetic diversity can lead to defects in the future.  The National Wildlife Refuge is concerned about the impact the wild horses, especially a larger herd, have on the surrounding environment.    

A recent article by Jeff Hampton in the The Virginian-Pilot points out that additional science will soon be added to the debate.  "The Corolla Wild Horse Fund plans to commission a study led by North Carolina State University that would examine the effect of the herd on marshes and grasses crucial to waterfowl habitat," said Karen McCalpin, executive director of the fund.  The study would also measure the impact of humans and feral hogs in the area. 

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