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.

About Kari Pugh 283 Articles
Kari Pugh is digital director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, 94.5 WCMS and Classic Rock 92.3. Reach her at kari@obxtoday.com

20 Comments

  1. Thank you to all of the deputies who will be addressing this issue. We know that you have a LOT on your plate every summer but your efforts will be appreciated!!

    Additional thank you to the County that has decided to protect our beloved horses!

    This is a happy day !

  2. So happy you will enforce this to protect the horses from people who think they are above the law. Thank you for this! I recently visited OBX.

  3. I’m sorry, I don’t understand a part of the article:

    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.

    Does this mean that a deputy, a sworn-in officer of the court, cannot issue a citation without having a witness? Isn’t the deputy’s witnessing the violation enough? Why does there have to be a witness before a citation can be issued?

    • If a deputy doesn’t witness a crime first hand then a witness who is willing to testify in court is necessary. I’d imagine most complaints are made by the general public because it would be rather unlikely for a deputy to be in the right place at the right time very often.

    • If a civilian witnesses a crime he must go before a magistrate to have a summons issued. If an officer witnesses a crime then he will issue the summons.

    • Yes, the deputy can be that witness. But if the deputy did not witness the crime personally, he or she can not cite the suspect unless there is a witness to the crime willing to testify in court. Otherwise it is just heresay.

  4. Huge thanks to all of those who are involved in the protection of these beautiful horses..and one mule! Since there are so many houses that are rented out near that area, is there any way that the property management companies could be required to have information for tenants about the importance of not feeding, approaching or engaging the horses?

    • That’s a great idea. Real Estate companies should be required to verbally tell renters to stay away from the horses, and have a written notice at each rental home, and in the contract renters sign.

  5. So grateful that efforts are made to protect these horses. I don’t know why people think that it is okay to be near or touch a wild animal.

  6. How about shutting down the horse tours so the horses don’t get chased all over and the “roads” don’t get torn up so bad. I know it’s a long shot considering “someone” on the council owns a majority of the horse tours. To make up for “lost revenue” the county could actually charge day trippers a daily fee to access the 4×4 beach, not a parking permit that rarely gets enforced. That way homeowners/renters who pay a premium in taxes and rental fees can actually enjoy the beach without an abundance of vehicles driving up and down it all day.

  7. How about when you, your family and friends have sitting, relax and enjoying the beach for over half the day. You drove down beach with a permit. Along comes some of these horses who wander next to you, and you don’t engage them. Moments later, a person approaches you stating that you have to move, he is job is protecting the horses. You explain to this person that you have been at this location for more then 1/2 the day. The person still things you are suppose to move.. My advice to him or anyone else is that I am not moving. If he wishes , he can corral the horses to another location himself.

    • Keep in mind – you are only a visitor to the horses home. If they approach you, you should move away, at least until they move then return to your spot.

  8. It is nothing to see 4 horse tours coming at you and rental Jeeps behind. I watched one tour person going fast and turning corner fast. Guess they wanted to give thrill to Tourists

  9. This is great news to hear. It is so frustrating to see people feeding them or having their young children pose with them. I also hate when individuals have their dogs running off leash and harassing the horses.

  10. How about limiting all the development up there? I went on a tour once with family visiting me and was surprised about the discrepancy: Keep away from the horses! Don’t disturb them or feed them! But the homes are being built and roads are everywhere bringing all the tour busses in. So quit bringing so many people in! Keep the motorized vehicles out! Just more of the OBX hypocrisy: keep our beaches clean, pristine and undisturbed, but let’s put up more homes & condos and keep those tourists coming.

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