Annual report on Shackleford Banks horses released

At the end of 2020, 117 horses lived on the North Carolina barrier island, including two 27-year-old mares.
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HARKERS ISLAND, NC – The 2020 annual findings report on the Shackleford Banks horses has been released by Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Foundation for Shackleford Horses. This report, covering the calendar year 2020, is available on the park’s website at: https://go.nps.gov/horsereports

Two wild stallions on Shackleford Banks fighting.

Two stallions on Shackleford Banks clash. Thirty-eight percent of horses on the barrier island are male.

Highlights from the report include:

  • At the end of 2020 there were 117 horses on Shackleford Banks.
  • The herd is 62% female and 38% male. Of the horses over 23 years of age, there are 2 males and 8 females.
  • The oldest living horses on the island are two 27- year old mares.
  • Herd mortality was 5% with 6 deaths. Mortality still averages 6%.
  • Since 1999, the average lifespan of horses on Shackleford Banks has been approximately 11 years.

Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Foundation for Shackleford Horses emphasize that the most important factor in protecting the wild horses is public education. As a result, they have increased efforts to inform the public how best to watch the horses without interacting with them or interrupting their natural behavior. These messages are regularly communicated in the media and through programs like the Park’s “Horse Sense and Survival” tours.

The park now also offers visitors an opportunity to learn more about the wild horses by taking part in the Junior Ranger Wild Horse Protector activity. Designed for kids in grades 6th through 8th, a parent, guardian, or youth leader may check out a backpack with instruments needed to complete activities like those done by the wild horse biologist. Upon completion, students receive an award and are certified as Wild Horse Protectors.

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