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What happens to NC’s wild horses when a major hurricane like Florence hits?

Horses gather together in a glen in near Corolla, North Carolina, in 2011, which is part of the barrier island the Outer Banks.

MEREDITH TIBBETTS/STARS AND STRIPES

By ABBIE BENNETT | The News & Observer | Published: September 11, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina coastal residents are evacuating or battening down ahead of Hurricane Florence — at least the human ones.

The wild horses that make their homes on the coast of the Tar Heel state are staying put, and they might be better prepared to outlast a storm than anyone.

Hurricane Florence was a category 4 storm as of Monday evening — 400 miles wide and still gaining strength and speed as it bears down on the Carolinas coast.

North Carolina’s wild horse herd has seen its share of storms, though. They’ve been around for 500 years, after all, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF) said on Facebook Monday.

Currituck County, where the herd lives, ordered a mandatory evacuation of the Outer Banks communities, Corolla and Carova, beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Neighboring Dare County — where much of the staff that looks after the herd lives — and other coastal counties along the coast issued evacuation orders for all residents and tourists.

“The horses have lived on this barrier island for 500 years, and they are well equipped to deal with rough weather,” the CWHF said on Facebook Monday. “They know where to go to stay high and dry and are probably in better shape right now than most of us humans who are scrambling with final preparations. “

And CWHF staff believe the horses won’t need any human help.

“Anything we might do in the hopes of ‘protecting’ them would probably end up being more dangerous and stressful for them than the storm,” the CWHF said.

There are 18 rescued horses at a farm the CWHF cares for, and staff is “making sure they are ready to ride the storm out safely. They have shelter, but also the option to stay outside.

“Just like with the wild horses, their instincts will tell them where to go to be safe.”

The rescue horses at the farm will have emergency IDs braided into their manes and staff will stay at the farm with them during the storm.

“We believe that it is safer to shelter in place, since the majority of the rescue horses are still very newly tamed, not used to being stalled, and not used to being trailered,” the CWHF said.

As of Monday evening, the CWHF’s update on Facebook had more than 560 shares, nearly 2,000 reactions and more than 200 comments from people concerned about the herd.

Last month, a filly was born to the herd — the most recent foal born this summer.

©2018 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)
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Three horses and a colt relax in the sand dunes just after dawn in 2011 near Corolla, North Carolina, which is part of the barrier island known as the Outer Banks.
MEREDITH TIBBETTS/STARS AND STRIPES

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