With Hurricane Florence barreling towards the Carolinas, public concern is growing for the hundreds of wild horses that roam North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
Luckily, wildlife experts are here to assuage our fears, reminding us that the South's wild horses have weathered many powerful storms in the centuries since they first settled the sandy barrier islands.
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Sue Stuska, a wildlife biologist based at Cape Lookout National Seashore, where 118 wild horses live on Shackleford Banks, told the Associated Press that the horses are “highly sensitive to weather changes and instinctively know what to do in a storm.” Stuska explained that horses are programmed to make their way to higher ground during flooding, and head for shrub thickets and wooded areas during high winds.
"Naturally, they are meant to be outside and they have high ground and they have thick places to hide," Stuska said. "Don't worry about them. They've survived for hundreds of years, and we expect that they'll be just fine."
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a group that protects and manages a herd of wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs on Currituck Outer Banks, reassured horse lovers via its Facebook page Monday.
“The horses have lived on this barrier island for 500 years, and they are well equipped to deal with rough weather,” the group wrote.
“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,” the post continued. “They are much better off without any help from us; anything we might do in the hopes of ‘protecting’ them would probably end up being more dangerous and stressful for them than the storm.”
We have no doubt these hearty equines will live to tell the tail.