By Barry Ward, Daily Advance
May 3, 2016
The U.S. Senate has signed off on legislation designed to keep the Corolla wild horses roaming the Currituck Outer Banks for decades to come.
Under the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act approved last month, a herd of no more than 130 free-roaming wild horses will be allowed in and around the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.
The legislation directs the U.S. Secretary of the Interior to enter into an agreement with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Currituck County and the state of North Carolina to manage the wild horse population and ensure the natural resources inside the refuge are not adversely affected.
Both of North Carolina’s U.S. senators hailed the bill’s passage.
“I’m glad the Senate approved this amendment,”said U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C. “The Corolla wild horses have lived on North Carolina’s shores for centuries and are an iconic part of the Outer Banks community. The passage of this amendment preserves an important piece of North Carolina’s heritage and will allow the Corolla horses to delight locals and visitors for years to come.”
“I’m pleased that the Senate unanimously approved our amendment to help save North Carolina’s Corolla wild horses,” added U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C. “Many people who have vacationed in North Carolina remember the days when these majestic horses could be sighted on our beautiful beaches, and our amendment will play an important part in ensuring future generations of Americans have their own opportunity to see the Corolla wild horses.”
Taylor Holgate, Burr’s press secretary, said the bill will now go to a conference of House members and senators where changes are possible. Once terms of the bill are agreed to, it will go to President Barack Obama for his signature.
Currituck Board of Commissioners Chairman David Griggs said he was pleased the bill had passed the Senate. The bill was first introduced in the U.S. House by U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C., in January 2013 and passed that June.
Griggs noted that the Corolla wild horses are Currituck’s second-biggest tourist attraction and reflect a part of the county’s history that needs to be preserved. The horses’ lineage can be traced back to the arrival of Spanish explorers on the Outer Banks in the 16th century.
Management of the herd will come at no cost to taxpayers because it will be the responsibility of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.
Karen McCalpin, the fund’s executive director, applauded Burr and Tillis’ efforts getting the bill passed in the Senate.
“I have had to watch the agonizing genetic decline of these historic horses escalate over the last 10 years,” said McCalpin. “We are so grateful to Sen. Burr and Sen. Tillis for ensuring that these unique horses will be guaranteed a genetically healthy future for generations to come.”