No warnings: Currituck Sheriff’s Office to strictly enforce laws protecting wild horses

Photo posted earlier this year by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund of a person approaching two stallions. [Photo courtesy CWHF]

The Currituck County Sheriff’s Office announced Monday deputies will now strictly enforce laws protecting the northern beaches’ wild mustang herd – no warnings.

The sheriff’s office has received numerous complaints over the summer of people approaching or corralling the wild horses along the beaches of Currituck for the purpose of feeding, petting or taking photos.

Those actions are a violation of a county ordinance, which reads: “Feeding, riding and petting prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person to feed, ride, pet or approach with the intent to feed, ride or pet any wild horse.”

Sheriff Matt Beickert said deputies will now be enforcing such violations by issuing those that continue to approach the horses a ticket.

If the deputy has a witness that will volunteer to appear in court to testify against the offenders, then a state citation will be issued, which requires a mandatory court appearance.

“There will be no warnings,” Beickert said.

Currituck County placed new signs in the Carova area to educated visitors about the wild horses. [Photo courtesy Corolla Wild Horse Fund]

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund, which manages a herd of about 100 Colonial Spanish mustangs living in the northern beaches of Currituck County, has posted on social media several times over the spring and summer about people approaching or trying to feed the horses. There have also been complaints about 4×4 companies offering wild horse tours crowding the herd.

Feeding the wild horses not only habituates them to humans, jeopardizing their ability to stay in the wild, food outside their natural diets can cause illness and even death. And approaching wild horses, caretakers say, is dangerous for both people and horses.

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Kari Pugh is digital director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, 94.5 WCMS and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach her at [email protected]