Without help from Congress, the beloved wild horses of Corolla could become extinct.
These descendants of colonial Spanish Mustangs freely roamed North Carolina's Outer Banks for centuries. But encroaching development has now left them confined to a 7,500-acre plot at the Banks' northernmost tip, and unlike their southern counterpart on Shackleford Banks, they have no federal protection.
To make matters worse, the US Fish and Wildlife Service sees the herd as a pest and wants to restrict its number to one that could cause its eventual collapse.
This would be disatrous for horse lovers, as well as the local economy. Designated as NC's state horse in 2010, the wild mustang is a very popular tourist attraction.
Although a bill to protect the herd passed in the House last year, it has since languished in committee. Passing it won't cost taxpayers anything, says the herd's nonprofit caretaker, but without it, the horses could disappear forever.
Tell the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to revive legislation to protect Corolla's wild horses.
We, the undersigned, believe Congress should take whatever action necessary to preserve this historic herd of wild mustangs living near Corolla, North Carolina.
In response to U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife's claim that the horses are feral pests that compete with other wildlife for limited resourcs, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund says the "horses have coexisted with all other wildlife for nearly 500 years and have had no unacceptable impact on the environment." It says that two-thirds of the land the horses live on now is privately owned with only a third run by USFWS, and last year's aerial count showed only eight on US land. Furthermore, counts conducted for several years have shown similar results.
The present government plan would limit the herd to only 60 horses. It would remove and sell at auction those exceeding that number and sterilize remaining mares. Though the plan has expired, USFWS currently refuses to change that number, which experts say is not enough to sustain a healthy herd.
But, if passed by the Senate, the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act would mandate that the herd be managed with a minimum of 110 member and would periodically introduce mares from the Shackleford Banks to address the Corolla herd's dying gene pool.
Since similar legislation has already been passed to protect the Shackleford horses, and it appears USFWS has no justifiable reason for reducing the Corolla herd's numbers, we ask that Congress act immediately to stop this plan that could cause the extinction of this historic and beloved herd. We request that the chair of the Senate Enviroment and Public Works Committee immediately revive the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act and bring it to vote before the US Senate.
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