Tiny horse roaming Outer Banks is first wild foal of 2023, experts say. Take a look

Fewer than 100 wild horses roam the northern end of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, so finding a foal is a sign of hope for the fragile herd.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund announced the discovery March 27, reporting the filly was born last week. Her name is Dove.

“Dove is extra special to us because her grandfather is our dear Amadeo, who passed away in 2020,” the fund wrote.

“We cannot afford to lose horses due to human-caused problems. They face so many challenges to their survival that are beyond our control. ... Last year we lost two foals to natural causes.”

An ongoing DNA project has revealed Dove is the grandchild of Hazel, an elder female who made headlines by serving as a babysitter for multiple mares in need of rest and food. Hazel, who died in 2021, was estimated to be nearly 30 years old.

North Carolina’s wild horses are known for lingering on beaches like tourists, where the ocean breeze frees them from the plague of bugs in the sand dunes, experts say.

Living conditions on the barrier islands are consistently dangerous, including vicious brawls waged by males over turf and females.

One such battle claimed the life of an 11-year-old stallion March 11, when he suffered “an irreparably broken hind leg,” the fund reported.

Foals are known to succumb to illnesses and remain at risk of choking on unfamiliar foods illegally provided by tourists, including apples, experts say. Wild horses roaming to the south in the Shackleford Banks have an average life expectancy of 11 years, similar to the horses found in Corolla, although some can live into their 20s and beyond.

“We know that foals are very exciting, but please remember they are also very fragile and need plenty of space,” the fund reported.

“It’s illegal to approach, harass, or entice the horses and you must stay 50 feet away from them at all times. We also ask that people not park and sit right on top of them, and do not circle around and around them. Definitely do not get out of your vehicle! ... The adults can also be very territorial and protective, and by getting too close you are putting yourself in serious danger.”

Anyone witnessing harassment of a horse is asked to call the Currituck County Sheriff’s Office at 252-453-3633, the fund says.

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