A young stallion named Gus just might be the key to saving the wild horses that roam the beaches of Corolla. The genetically-diverse wild stallion from Cedar Island, some 250 miles away, was released into the Corolla herd on Thursday.
“He’s the offspring of some Shackelford horses who are the same breed as ours – Colonial Spanish Mustangs. They have far more maternal lines than we do. We are down to one maternal line. Our gene pool is very shallow. We are having birth defects, so Gus is historic,” explained Corolla Wild Horse Fund Executive Director Karen McCalpin.
The process to get Gus into the herd has taken years and required approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Earlier this year, McCalpin pulled DNA samples by dart gun from two wild stallions living on Cedar Island.
It was then analyzed by Dr. Gus Cothran of Texas A&M University who was able to confirm that the horses were Colonial Spanish Mustangs.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund decided to name the stallion Gus in Dr. Cothran’s honor.
After Gus tested negative for Equine Infectious Anemia, staff from the CWHF made the trip to Cedar Island to transport Gus to the north beach in Corolla.
The herd on Cedar Island has been owned and cared for by Woody and Nena Hancock.
“Gus is the first step in turning that headed for extinction situation around. Without the introduction of new genes into the Corolla herd – they would cease to exist. We are already at a genetic bottleneck where we are having consistent birth defects in foals,” McCalpin told NewsChannel 3′s Todd Corillo on Monday.
“Obviously we are hoping Gus finds some girlfriends and that offspring that he would produce would be the first genetically-diverse offspring here in centuries. We hope if not next year, the year after we’re going to see a foal that we know is the beginning of turning around the path to extinction for these horses,” she continued.
As she watched Gus idly graze in his new Corolla home on an abnormally warm late-November day, McCalpin couldn’t help but be excited.
“Seeing him is probably bigger than winning the lottery for me. People talk about a bucket list and that was certainly on my bucket list. It’s just amazing to me that we were able to do this.”
McCalpin hopes to be able to return to Cedar Island in the spring to DNA test mares that could be released in Corolla as well.
Source: WTKR by Todd Corillo
The mission of The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is to protect, conserve, and responsibly manage the herd of wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs roaming freely on the northernmost North Carolina’s Currituck Outer Banks. The organization employs a darted immunocontraception program using the FDA approved substance PZP (porcine zona pelucida). It is conducted under the auspices of the Humane Society of the United States and the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Montana.
WASHINGTON– Today, U.S. Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) offered an amendment to the Sportsmen’s bill to provide for the responsible management of the wild-horse population around Corolla, North Carolina and the Outer Banks. The Burr amendment is the same as HR. 126, the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives on June 3, 2013.
“The Corolla wild horses are one of the many natural treasures of our state, and people travel from across North Carolina and the country to witness these wild horses in their natural habitat,” said Senator Richard Burr. “I am proud to introduce this amendment that will provide for the care and management of these wild-roaming horses and give local organizations and authorities the tools they need to manage these horses without excessive federal involvement. We have waited far too long for action on this issue, so I hope Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will finally allow a vote on my amendment --protecting the Corolla horses is important to sportsmen and all who love wildlife.”
The Burr amendment would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the State of North Carolina, Currituck County and the Corolla Wild Horse Fund to craft a new management plan to care for the wild horses that inhabit the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The plan would allow the herd t o grow to the size found by equine scientists to be necessary to maintain genetic viability – between 110 and 130 horses.
The Corolla wild horses are unique to North Carolina and do not exist anywhere else in the world. Their lineage can be traced back to the arrival of Spanish explorers on the Outer Banks in the 16th century. They are Colonial Spanish mustangs that have survived in the wild for the last four centuries and now roam across Currituck County, North Carolina.
This legislation is supported by The Humane Society and American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Without opposition, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act (H.R. 126). This legislation, which was introduced by Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.), would protect the free-roaming wild horses in and around the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge in Currituck County, N.C. by increasing the number of horses allowed in the herd, thereby preserving their genetic viability.
The Corolla wild horse herd can be traced back to the arrival of Spanish explorers on the Outer Banks in the 16th century. Despite access to roam across 7,500 acres of public and private land, the current law caps the maximum number of horses at 60, a population deemed too low to maintain the herd's genetic viability. The Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act would require the Secretary of the Interior to craft a new herd management plan with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, Currituck County, and the state of North Carolina that would allow for the herd population to increase to no fewer than 110 horses, with a target population between 120 and 130 horses.
"These beautiful and iconic horses are an essential part of Eastern North Carolina's heritage, and people travel from near and far to see them in their natural habitat," said Rep. Jones. "We must protect these wild-roaming horses for future generations to enjoy." Now that the legislation has passed the House, it will be sent to the Senate for consideration.