On Monday, September 25, a days-old wild horse, and resident of the Rachel Carson Reserve, was seen exhibiting signs of extreme distress. Paula Gillikin, NC Division of Coastal Management’s Coastal Reserve site manager for the Rachel Carson Reserve, examined the male foal at the Reserve. After consulting with the Reserve’s local equine veterinarian and the N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine, the Division subsequently moved the horse from the Reserve for further examination and treatment.
The foal was transported to the equine veterinarian’s office for stabilization and then to N.C. State College of Veterinary Medicine where testing and analysis to determine the causes of distress are ongoing, emergency care is being administered, and further treatment options are being considered.
The Rachel Carson Reserve is located between the mouths of the Newport and North Rivers and directly across Taylor’s Creek from the historic town of Beaufort in Carteret County. The main part of the site, just south of Beaufort, is a complex of islands which includes Carrot Island, Town Marsh, Bird Shoal, and Horse Island.
Horses were brought to the site by a local citizen in the 1940s and eventually became wild. The horses are valued by locals and tourists alike as a cultural resource and symbol of wildness and freedom. The horses subsist primarily on saltmarsh cordgrass and they dig for fresh water. The wild horse herd is continually monitored by Reserve staff and volunteers with minimal management to maintain the wildness of the herd. The Division intervened in this case because of the extreme signs of distress and the very young age of the foal.
The public is asked to help protect the horses and their safety by maintaining a distance of at least 50 feet away (the size of a large bus). A much larger distance is recommended for viewing the horses’ natural behaviors and protecting them from disturbance.
About the North Carolina Coastal Reserve (Rachel Carson Reserve): The North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, a division of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, works to protect, conserve and manage North Carolina's coastal resources in the 20 coastal counties. The N.C. Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve Program protects natural areas for education, research, and compatible traditional uses. Since its creation in 1989, the program has preserved more than 44,000 acres of unique coastal environments at 10 sites along the coast.
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