Hurricane Florence may not hurt North Carolina’s wild horse population, wildlife experts say

As North Carolina braces for Hurricane Florence, some of the tourists and residents are worried about the famous wild horses that roam the Outer Banks. But Sue Stuska, a wildlife biologist based at Cape Lookout National Seashore, said the horses instinctively know what to do in a storm


As Hurricane Florence looms in the direction of the south-east of the USA, roughly 1 million people, forced the evacuation of the coastal areas in North and South Carolina and Virginia in order to avoid that the Category 4 storm that is expected to bring massive amounts of precipitation, flooding, high winds and potential mudslides.

But as many of the region’s residents scrambling to find shelter, where are North Carolina’s wild horse population?

The horses, usually found along the state of the Outer Banks, which is subject to a mandatory evacuation, in the area hundreds of years — the meaning of this tropical storm is not their first.


“Of course, they are meant to be outside and they have good earth and they have big places to hide,” Sue Stuska, a wildlife biologist based at Cape Lookout National Seashore, told The Associated Press.


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Horses are very sensitive to changes in the weather, know when to seek higher ground during a flood, or search for shrub thickets to protect themselves against the fierce wind.

While the storm-related horse deaths are not unheard of — five wild horses were drowned during the Hurricane Isabel in 2003 — The Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a group dedicated to the protection and management of a herd of wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs living in and around the northernmost Currituck Outer Banks, tried to soothe concerns in a Monday Facebook post.


“The horses have lived on these barrier islands for more than 500 years, and they are well equipped to deal with rough weather. They know where to go to stay high and dry and are probably in better shape than most of us humans, who are scrambling with final preparations,” the group wrote. “They are much better off without any help from us; everything we could do in the hope of “protecting” them would probably end up in a more dangerous and stressful for them than for the storm.”

Stuska echoed this feeling: “Don’t worry about them. They have survived for hundreds of years, and we expect them to be okay.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Madeline Farber is a Reporter for Fox News. You can follow her on Twitter @MaddieFarberUDK.

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