Local News

Corolla Wild Horses Face Uncertain Future

Posted May 28, 2007
Updated May 30, 2007

— Wild Spanish Mustangs were dropped off on the Outer Banks centuries ago when the Spanish planned to colonize the islands. Today, a new management plan calls for thinning the herd from more than 100 down to just 60, and the horses face an uncertain future.

The wild horses of Corolla, also known as bankers, have survived in the Outer Banks for nearly 500 years. Now they face their toughest hurdle. The beaches where the Spanish Mustangs landed so long ago are now filling up with tourists.

“I’ve worked with horses a good part of my life,” said Steve Rogers of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. “I’d say their biggest danger is us -- people.”

Rogers’ job is to educate the masses. He spends his summer days handing out brochures on the beaches and intercepting people trying to get to close to the animals.

“I just want to give you some information about the horses,” Rogers told a group of tourists. “You have to stay at least 50 feet away at all times and not feed them."

"Most of the folks who come here don’t know the rules," Rogers said.

Karen McCalpin, who runs the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, the group charged by the county to oversee and protect the horses, said the animals do not belong to anybody.

“They’re nobody’s horses,” she said. “They don’t belong to the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. They don’t belong to the county.”

McCalpin routinely has to remove injured horses from the herd. The injuries are often caused by humans.

“We’ve had six that were intentionally shot,” McCalpin said.

The horses roam 12,000 acres or 11 miles of the island. Much of that land is privately owned and those owners continue to build.

“There are about 300 houses in that area, but there are 3,080 platted lots.” McCalpin said. “And certainly if all those were to be built out, I don’t know how long people and wild horses can co-exist. Probably not another five centuries unless we do more careful thinking about how we develop the rest of the other banks.”

Rogers and McCalpin want to see horses, houses and humans all get along. They are glad to see people admiring the horses, but they do not want to see people love them to death.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund has begun DNA testing of the horses to help better manage breeding and lineage. They are also thinning the herd through an adoption program, hoping to help the breed survive.

Currituck County commissioners are considering denying a request for $75,000 made by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund to take care of the herd. Commissioners said the group never repaid an prior $85,000 loan.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund said it will be hard to continue without the money because $75,000 is about one-third of the group's budget.


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  • ncbaby67 May 31, 2007

    daMoFo..you keep saying if we want to save the horses, that we should buy the land and let them roam...well I promise you that if I had the money, I would try to buy the land so that the horses could be safe. Even though I don't have such money to do this, I still have an opinion and I believe the horses should be safe to live the way they always have...FREE

  • party pooper May 31, 2007

    oops, *ridiculous

  • party pooper May 31, 2007

    They were put there 500 years ago , not last week. They have thrived ever since. Do away with them because they aren't native; what a riculous way of thinking. A lot of animals, plants and insects are not native to the U.S., so why don't you get rid of them too and spend YOUR money doing so. Get real.

  • piperchuck May 30, 2007

    "Where do you get the nerve to say that these horses are not important enough to save or stop growth?" It's quite simple. They don't own the land and they're not native to it. They were put there by MAN, and they can be removed by MAN. It's still funny to hear the horse lovers saying all of this land should go to the horses and accusing the land owners and developers of being greedy. Why don't you horse lovers buy some more suitable land for these poor animals, round them all up, and move them to horsey utopia?

  • party pooper May 30, 2007

    Where do you get the nerve to say that these horses are not important enough to save or stop growth? Call it a wash....

  • daMoFo May 30, 2007

    Where do some of you get the nerve to tell someone they cannot build a house on their own land? Either buy the land from them or shut up!

  • RAINDOG May 30, 2007


  • spazman May 30, 2007


  • horses and me May 30, 2007

    To you greedy evil people , you really make me sick. You are the reason that morals, respect and just plain decency are no longer here. It is the very simple things in life like these horses that bring peace. Everything concerning money does not make the world go around. And I am not a church going person, but I promise you, things will come back to you. That greed and no heart will get you one day. My gosh.. where and who raised you?

  • curiousgeorgia May 30, 2007

    Angel eyes, let's paraphrase Mr Barker and suggest that to control the humans let's spay or neuter partners (with their consent of course). We've an over abundance of people and that would be an effective way of doing it without harm to children or horses.