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jakuka
09-20-2010, 02:20 PM
http://www.wcnc.com/news/local/North-Carolina-wild-horses-face-uncertain-future-103274809.html

North Carolina wild horses face uncertain future
Credit: AP


by TOM BREEN / Associated Press

Associated Press

Posted on September 20, 2010 at 8:31 AM


COROLLA, N.C. (AP) -- On a stretch of barrier island without paved roads, some of the last wild horses in the eastern United States are seeing their world get smaller each year.

A boom in vacation homes in the last 25 years in this remote place has seen the descendants of colonial Spanish mustangs confined to a 7,500-acre sanctuary on the northern tip of North Carolina's Outer Banks. And now the herd itself may shrink along with its habitat.

A plan backed by the federal government would see the herd reduced from about 115 horses today to no more than 60 in a bid to stop the animals, designated North Carolina's state horse this year, from competing with federally protected birds for increasingly hard-to-come-by resources.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says the plan will reduce harmful behavior by a species it considers a nuisance. But residents who rely on the horses to bring in tourist dollars or who simply cherish the mustangs as a symbol of the country's spirit worry it could bring about the collapse of the herd through hereditary diseases and other complications of a shallow gene pool.

"The American wild horse is disappearing from our country," said Karen McCalpin, executive director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a nonprofit group that manages the herd. "To me, they're as much a symbol of freedom as the bald eagle."

Wild mustangs, which are found in their greatest numbers in Western states, at one time could also be found in large herds throughout the southeast. Today, they're confined to a few isolated spots in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.

Thousands of mustangs once roamed the Outer Banks, descendants of horses brought during an ill-fated Spanish colonial mission in the 1520s. But Highway 12 has been steadily moving north through the barrier islands, reaching Corolla in the 1980s and bringing rapid development with it.

Huge, brightly painted vacation homes now line the road, and even pop up behind the dunes on Corolla's beach, accessible only by vehicles with four-wheel drive. Once the paved road ends, there's no development except vacation homes, some as big as mansions.

It's a remote area, where responses to 911 calls can take up to 45 minutes. There are more than 1,300 homes in this part of the island, which has a year-round population of fewer than 150.

The horses around Corolla are in a unique situation. Unlike their counterparts farther south in Shackleford Banks, the mustangs don't have any kind of federal protection.

In fact, on its website, the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge describes the animals as something of a pest: "The Fish and Wildlife Service considers the horses to be nonnative, feral animals and not a natural component of the barrier island ecosystem," it reads. "These animals compete with native wildlife species for food and fresh water."

The management plan calls for the size of the herd to be kept at 60, meaning horses in excess of that number would have to be captured and put up for adoption to new homes off the island, while remaining mares would be treated with contraceptive medication to stop them from becoming pregnant.

That could leave the horses vulnerable to hereditary diseases and other problems associated with a shallow gene pool, according to Gus Cothran, a professor of veterinary integrative biosciences at Texas A&M University who has studied the animals.

Already, some of the horses show signs of inbreeding in their small stature, looking more like ponies than the full-grown mustangs they are.

"Within a generation, it would almost certainly reduce the genetic diversity even more," he said. "They would be at a pretty high risk to be unable to survive another severe bottleneck."

That would be disastrous not just for horse lovers, but for the local economy, which has capitalized on the animals as a tourist attraction.

Six companies give guided tours of the horses' habitat to thousands of tourists every year, bringing in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"There's the lighthouse and there's the horses, and aside from that there's no other kind of economic activity," said Kevin Jackson with Bob's Off-Road Wild Horse Adventure Tours.

The wild horse fund has put its hopes in a bill introduced in Congress by Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C. The bill would set a target population of between 120 and 130 horses, and allow the introduction of mares from the herd at Shackleford Banks, on the other end of the Outer Banks, to enhance the genetic diversity of the Corolla horses.

In the 1990s, Jones authored legislation that brought similar federal protection to the wild horses at Shackleford Banks, located in the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has commissioned a two-year study, begun in June, to measure the effects of nonnative species like the horses on the region.

"We don't really know what's going on over there, and we'd like to get the science together so we can better manage our resources there," said Mike Hoff, manager of the Currituck refuge.

But the federal government agrees with the horses' advocates that booming development is a challenge to all wildlife, native and nonnative alike.

"The county says there are 3,195 developable lots up there," Hoff said. "At that point, what habitat is left?"

sudshunter
09-20-2010, 02:42 PM
those horses have been there alot longer than the people have.... that $ucks

dudeondacouch
09-20-2010, 03:22 PM
jesus, now they want to kill horses to save birds?

why not just STOP DEVELOPING the islands?

rocket
09-20-2010, 08:37 PM
The most disturbing thing about this is they could kill all the horses, shut down development and ban humans and it wouldn't do a thing to benefit the birds.

Buffalo96
09-20-2010, 08:45 PM
Who said that the birds aren't an nuisance species?!

sand flea
09-20-2010, 09:40 PM
Not trying to ruffle any feathers here, but horses are a pretty recent arrival on the OBX. They're about as natural as elephants or crocodiles or flamingoes. I'm not saying we should wipe them out, and certainly not because of this idiotic attempt to turn the place into a nesting ground for plovers that never really bred there on a regular basis. That's about as unnatural and unscientific as it gets.

But there are a couple of spots up in Carova where they have electric fences to keep the horses out of these little experimental areas. It looks like a different place. The dunes are blanketed in a thick mat of plants, there are tons of flowers blooming, and it looks like a jungle. That's the way it's supposed to look. There's no erosion. The dunes are held in place and there are NATIVE species like foxes and raccoons and lizards and--god forbid--humans. Don't forget that people have been there for thousands of years--Indians lived there. Hell, turtles have been nesting on Atlantic beaches since dinosaurs were plowing around like drunk teenagers in a Corvette.

I like seeing the horses. It's cool to have huge animals roaming around and tourists paying ungodly amounts of money to come take pictures of them. It's worth a laugh. But don't mix up the bird nonsense with the separate question of what an introduced species may or may not be doing to the place. Oh, and pay no attention to my avatar :p

jakuka
09-21-2010, 01:58 AM
don't mix up the bird nonsense with the separate question of what an introduced species may or may not be doing to the place.

Agreed. But after reading the article it didn't apear that the reason was beach erosion. But rather it said:


...from competing with federally protected birds for increasingly hard to come by resources





Either way, at least the horses get the luxury of being re-homed to a new location. All other wildlife, foxes included, are outright killed if deemed to be a nuisance for the birds.

Smally
09-21-2010, 02:35 AM
As far as the bird issue goes. It seems to me there is the Pea Island wildlife refuge. If that is not enough well.... Maybe I'm Naive, in fact likely I am... But couldn't Audubon & Dow & others instead of using their many $$$ to take over a national recreational park, maybe they could use that money to dredge & create new habitat for plovers. I don't know if this is possible, physically or fiscally. But it seems I've heard of islands being made before.

PopsBoy
09-21-2010, 04:55 AM
As a (almost) 18 year puddle pirate, my whole career has been about protecting something, be it fish, turtles, humans or the homeland. I fully understand and respect the rights of the birds and the turtles. My frustration, as I'm sure most of yours does, comes from the fact that humans have been fishing these beaches for thousands of years right alongside the birds and turtles. We've even had vehicles out there for a while and, while not in the numbers we do now, we pretty much co-existed.
Then they started building houses and neighborhoods and parks and campgrounds. Each one of these is on sand on the Outer Banks and sand is where the birds nest. Most of these provide noise, lights or block the moon, which is what the turtles use to come ashore and lay egss in, you guessed it, sand. I personally believe that the majority of the people who drive the killing of native species and closing of beaches are the very ones who built their 3 story mansions on the beach and took away the plover's nesting place to start with. Yet somehow it's our fault and the horses fault and the improper alignment of the third moon of Jupiter in conjunction with the flight path of Halley's Comet around the Sun that these animals have no place to produce offspring?
Again, it's not animosity toward the wealthy, more like hatred for the stupid. I say let's tear down any houses built in the last 10 years or so and ban the building of any structure within 1/2 mile of the high tide mark. The only exception would be piers could be constructed where one had already exhisted to allow for easier access for the handicapped and old farts like me. That should leave plenty of beach for all God's creatures, including fishermen!

Roy

Drumdum
09-21-2010, 06:51 AM
Not trying to ruffle any feathers here, but horses are a pretty recent arrival on the OBX. They're about as natural as elephants or crocodiles or flamingoes. I'm not saying we should wipe them out, and certainly not because of this idiotic attempt to turn the place into a nesting ground for plovers that never really bred there on a regular basis. That's about as unnatural and unscientific as it gets.

But there are a couple of spots up in Carova where they have electric fences to keep the horses out of these little experimental areas. It looks like a different place. The dunes are blanketed in a thick mat of plants, there are tons of flowers blooming, and it looks like a jungle. That's the way it's supposed to look. There's no erosion. The dunes are held in place and there are NATIVE species like foxes and raccoons and lizards and--god forbid--humans. Don't forget that people have been there for thousands of years--Indians lived there. Hell, turtles have been nesting on Atlantic beaches since dinosaurs were plowing around like drunk teenagers in a Corvette.

I like seeing the horses. It's cool to have huge animals roaming around and tourists paying ungodly amounts of money to come take pictures of them. It's worth a laugh. But don't mix up the bird nonsense with the separate question of what an introduced species may or may not be doing to the place. Oh, and pay no attention to my avatar :p

I'm with you,Flea.. Only thing is I can remember a while back,Judge Boyle wanting badly to tie the Currituck beaches in with the Hatteras and nps beaches... Scientist in the court were saying there is no comparison,although it didn't sway his opinion... Could be another "setup" for what has happened and is happening here in Hatteras... I know,"sounds like another conspiracy theory",could be,we'll have to wait and see on that..

techie22311
09-21-2010, 01:34 PM
seems a bit hypocritical to me not to mention not what the donator intended. also got tax breaks.

'Audubon plans to sell an oceanfront tract of nearly 13 acres in Corolla to a developer who wants to build a 100-room hotel and a complex of shops and condominiums. The property sits between two sections of the up scale Pine Island subdivision. Close by is a Hampton Inn and a drive-in restaurant.

The property, plus 2,600 acres on the Currituck Sound, was donated to Audubon for conservation years ago by developer Earl Slick. The property valued at $25 million, has received state tax breaks.'


http://hamptonroads.com/2010/07/sale-audubon-tract-corolla-prompts-new-law

Garboman
09-21-2010, 02:12 PM
"Again, it's not animosity toward the wealthy, more like hatred for the stupid. I say let's tear down any houses built in the last 10 years or so and ban the building of any structure within 1/2 mile of the high tide mark."

That sounds like a great plan Roy but how about starting with your house first? I am sure you can bunk with the Birds you have saved.

Last Ocean front I completed 1996, should we extend your time frame and tear the houses I built in the 1990's down?

Perhaps your family would be able to support some of the carpenters families still at it on Hatteras and the northern OBX
after your extended bird sanctuary plan is implemented?


Ex Hatteras Island Carpenter who is not feeling too kindly to the bird people these days

Most of the pressure on these barrier islands to create these bird and turtle sanctuaries is from people like yourself who do not live there, have no business dependent on Tourist dollars, have no real estate there, and while you have a fondness for wildlife which is admirable you are willing to put your interests to the forefront regardless if it impacts residents/locals/tourists financial and social interests. The case for the Plovers and Oyster catchers is ridiculous. The little wild birds in the little house I hung for them outside my home seem to do just fine even though 4x4 vehicles are riding up and down my driveway every day mere feet from their nest. They seem to chirp chirp and have not froze up because of "human activity". I have yet to run one over with my Suburban or Grand Cherokee.

PopsBoy
09-21-2010, 02:57 PM
Garbo, I think you have mistaken what I was trying to say. I'm not a "bird person" or a "turtle person" and my job has more to do with the economy of those ares than you might think. Less people there makes less need for Coast Guard there which means less need for Coast Guardsmen in general.
I'll answer your question first though: My house isn't anywhere near 1/2 mile of the beach so it can stay.. ;)
My point was that it appears, at least in the areas I've been in, that it's the people who own those houses who push to restrict beach access. When they found they couldn't just block it off they started looking for other ways. Instead of restricting our access because it "disrupts the birds", tear the houses down and the birds have plenty of room to nest which solves all the problems. I too think the plight of these stupid birds is ridiculous, my point was that if they want to take something away to help the birds they should start with a little charity of their own.
My brother owned a plumbing business on Pleasure Island before he moved out west and my father still lives there and has for almost 20 years now. I love the Outer Banks and the people there and live close enough to visit every chance I get. I am far more on the side of locals and businessmen than on the side of any special interest group that works to take away access to public lands. Outside of fishing I do a lot of responsible off road 4x4 stuff. I know far too much about losing areas we once had access to.

Roy

Garboman
09-21-2010, 04:52 PM
Roy

I want to thank you for your service in the Coast Guard you people are to be commended.

Ask your Brother if he thinks oceanfront development should be restricted, every time we framed a Tourist Mansion up, shortly after a plumber showed up in a white van and went about his work in a dry place we built for him out of the wind...

Hows about another plan......

Take multiple dredges and cut a new deep channels between Ocracoke and Portsmouth. as well as at Oregon Inlet and Hatteras Inlet.

Use the dredge spoils to create "Plover Islands" and then use the Coast Guard to transport all the mating pairs next spring along with their NPS and Audubon guardians and get them off Hatteras.....The NPS can baby sit them on Plover Island instead of at the Point... Keep the dredges going and build reserve "Bird Islands" and we can move all the birds out of the way.....

As soon as new nesting pair shows up we move them with the Coast Guards assistance to the Fox and Raccoon free "Ploverville"


Birds should thrive in areas where they are not in danger of being run over with Suburban's

Sydney and his associates can then monitor their birds more effectively away from non Audubon "Human" influence....

rhodyman
09-21-2010, 11:36 PM
birdies. Its power. Its control. And its easy for anyone, including Popsboy, to jump into the fray as we turn on one another to "protect" a false issue, be it plovers, or turtles. In fact, his house argument reminded me of a quote from a famous economist who said: "Greed? Only the other guy is greedy. I'm not greedy."

Simple logic tells anyone that people out fishing are going to scare off any predators going after the nesting plovers, especially if those fishers are allowed to drive their 4-wheel drives onto the beach - away from the turtle/bird nesting sights, of course. If we're out fishing, making noise, walking around, making use of the outdoor facilities, etc. etc. etc., the foxes, raccoons, hawks, etc. etc., are not going to be anywhere nearby either us or the protected species in question. So obvious, its ridiculous to even have to say it.

The NPS, in its infant wisdom, is trapping and killing everything in sight on Hatteras, including Lassie, because of a human-fabricated problem - no drivers/fishers scaring the predators from the nests. Duh huh. Even Goober could figure that one out. Now come the horses, (I hate horses, but I do appreciate the longevity of the ones at Chincoteague and on Ocracoke, etc.). Why stop at killing 60 when you can just go ahead and shoot them all?!?!?!? Its just a matter of time before they are all dead, anyway, from lack of a viable gene pool. What Norman Einstein dreamed up that one?!?!?!?

Its not about birds, folks. Or even turtles. Its all about who is in control of every aspect of our lives. We're just the dumb ****'s who pay them to destroy what little enjoyment we might get out of a public resource.

I've had enough, and I don't even have a 4-wheel drive.

:mad::mad::mad:

MacPE6
09-21-2010, 11:57 PM
Now they want to play God too? If he decided to make it so then that's the way things should be! Leave it to humans to screw things up! Shouldn't take more than a couple thousand years to repair this time! I the big scheme of things a couple thousand years isn't all that bad right?

PopsBoy
09-22-2010, 12:51 AM
Thank you Garbo. It has been my honor and priviledge to serve our country and the people in it.
Now, onward:
I guess I'm having a bad day, I can usually express my thoughts in a more clear manner. I do not want to tear down any houses, I don't want to close any businesses or put the people on the coast out in any way. My train of thought was that the people who are taking away our access for birds and turtles and anything else they can think up, give up nothing to protect them. Most of them don't utilize the beach because if they did they would be endangering the animals as much as we "are". The ones I have seen have been the people who put up the nice big house on the beach to use once or twice a year and don't want us using their "back yard". I guess I was trying to say that if they had to give up what they use the beach for to protect a bird or a turtle they may change their minds, since it's not the fisherman who's truck is out there for a few hours that has really disturbed the nesting spots, it's the house that was built where they used to nest that has done it.

As for dredging up a "Ploverland", great in theory but as we both know it would never work on the Outer Banks, the current is too strong and one good storm and we'd be footing the bill to replace it.
Of course once we see what techie posted it puts the whole horse thing into perspective. If we take away the income (tourism) then the people will leave and when they leave they will sell cheap and when they sell cheap Audubon or some other group can pick it up and sell it to a developer at a profit!

Roy

PoBenda
09-22-2010, 05:47 PM
Right there with ya PopsBoy. I'm from Maui, and our "right" to the beach is being challenged every day by people with more money than scruples. The only thing that has saved us is Office of Hawaiian Affairs who has upheld the right of every citizen of the state of Hawaii to go to the beach unimpeded and without fear of intimidation, or legal reprisal. They have done a reasonable job of taking care of Natives in that aspect. (and the rest of us along with them.) I don't want to hijack this thread with a discussion about OHA, so if any of you know about them please keep it to yourself.

As far as tearing down there houses goes........... my uncle's a general contractor. I can't get witcha on that one.

I agree with you on most of that though. The sad truth is that they are using the Audobon Society to create their own private little gated community, and that MUST stop.

To anyone who has an idea, HOW do we STOP THIS? And don't give me something lame like "Write your congressman." Is there an organization where we can get like 10,000 people to write their congressman? I live in VA, but I'd come down there in a heart beat to pass out fliers, talk to people on the beach, hand 'em paper with the name of their local rep's complete with address and make it STUPID easy for them to protect their right to the beach. We can stop this. Has anybody started organizing yet?

drumrun
09-22-2010, 07:50 PM
Not trying to ruffle any feathers here, but horses are a pretty recent arrival on the OBX. They're about as natural as elephants or crocodiles or flamingoes. I'm not saying we should wipe them out, and certainly not because of this idiotic attempt to turn the place into a nesting ground for plovers that never really bred there on a regular basis. That's about as unnatural and unscientific as it gets.

But there are a couple of spots up in Carova where they have electric fences to keep the horses out of these little experimental areas. It looks like a different place. The dunes are blanketed in a thick mat of plants, there are tons of flowers blooming, and it looks like a jungle. That's the way it's supposed to look. There's no erosion. The dunes are held in place and there are NATIVE species like foxes and raccoons and lizards and--god forbid--humans. Don't forget that people have been there for thousands of years--Indians lived there. Hell, turtles have been nesting on Atlantic beaches since dinosaurs were plowing around like drunk teenagers in a Corvette.

I like seeing the horses. It's cool to have huge animals roaming around and tourists paying ungodly amounts of money to come take pictures of them. It's worth a laugh. But don't mix up the bird nonsense with the separate question of what an introduced species may or may not be doing to the place. Oh, and pay no attention to my avatar :p

Flea, I believe these horses are descendent's of Spanish Mustangs and came to shore from shipwrecks possibly dating back to the 1600's. In essence they are no more non native then 99% of the US population. I got to say IMHO they got every right to be there.

mbrajer
09-22-2010, 10:59 PM
We should kill humans next! They are clearly the ones competing with everything else on this planet :)