Because there were no full time staff at the Corolla Wild Horse Fund prior to late 2006, very little actual management of the wild herd was possible. Now five fulltime staff, including a Herd Manager, work tirelessly to responsibly manage the herd.
Managing wild horses on 7,544 acres of diverse habitat, combined with almost 700 houses and thousands of people and vehicles presents many complex challenges. During the height of tourist season, we respond to an average of 100 calls per month regarding wild horse issues. Many calls are after normal business hours. We respond 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Each wild horse is documented by the Herd Manager and entered in a data base. Horses are not branded or micro chipped. They are identified by color, markings, and their home territories. The Herd Manager spends 20 – 30 hours per week in the field observing all the harems and documenting body condition, habitat usage, and harem composition. An annual aerial count is conducted by helicopter and compared to field notes. Click here to read the law regarding the wild horses
Injured or sick horses are treated in the field if possible. Minor injuries are treated by the Herd Manager by capture and release. More serious injuries or illnesses may require capture and removal or euthanization. The Fund has written policies outlining procedures to be followed. Veterinarians are called in from Dominion Equine in Suffolk, VA for assessment, treatment, or humane euthanization.
When a wild horse is removed from its habitat, it cannot be returned to the wild. Once it has been exposed to domestic horses, there is a risk that the wild horse could carry back a disease for which the herd has no immunity. Any horse that is removed either has a life threatening injury or illness or has become dangerously habituated to humans. Although it is illegal to get closer than 50 feet or to feed a wild horse, unfortunately, there are always those who feel that the law does not apply to them and then wild horses suffer the consequences. Tanner, a two week old foal, died when visitors fed him watermelon rind. A necropsy showed it lodged in his colon causing what must have been excruciating pain from the impaction. Wild horses eat a very specialized diet that does not include common foods fed to domestic horses like apples and carrots. Besides being against the law, feeding puts the wild horse at risk for painful colic at the very least, and death, at the very worst.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund employs a darted immunocontraception program using the FDA approved substance PZP (porcine zona pelucida). It is conducted under the auspices of the Humane Society of the United States and the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Montana. Our Herd Manager has undergone extensive training at the Center to safely deliver PZP by Co2 pistol, CO2 rifle, or by blow gun. It is administered annually and is the least invasive method of delivery and the most humane method to control population. For example, a 16 year old mare that no longer is giving birth every year, will live a longer and healthier life in the wild.
Responsible wild horse management requires 100% dedication. Because our staff is so small, in addition to his herd management duties, the CWHF Herd Manager also has to participate in education activities that involve horses both on and offsite; care for and gentle horses awaiting adoption; participate in fund raising activities; attend Wild Horse Advisory Board meetings and CWHF Board meetings; and work in the Wild Horse museum in the off season. The CWHF Herd Manager and CWHF staff all work cooperatively with other equine organizations both statewide and nationally to assure best practices in the management of the wild horses.
Karen McCalpin became the first Executive Director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund in September of 2006. She was formerly the President of a statewide environmental nonprofit in Pennsylvania and moved to the Outer Banks specifically for her current position. Her entire career has been focused on nonprofit management and social services. She is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA with a degree in psychology and is a nationally certified fundraising executive. She began riding at age 10 and has never been without a horse since. She has taught both forward and saddle seat riding, showed American Saddlebreds, and is also the former statewide director of therapeutic riding at Penn State University.
Her lifelong long love of and respect for horses has motivated her to use her nonprofit management skills to help protect and preserve the wild horses of the Currituck Outer Banks. Karen and her husband Mike are the parents of five grown children and the grandparents of seven. email Karen
Susan Mathews joined us as the Director of Operations in April 2013 after 23 years in the real estate industry in Madison, WI. As a former business owner she has a diverse background in program management, sales, and marketing. She also has extensive non-profit experience specifically in fundraising and event planning.
Susan is an accomplished dispute resolution mediator, pianist, vocalist and master gardener. She has successfully trained and certified her Chesapeake Bay retriever as a therapy dog and has rescued two retired greyhound racers. Susan grew up riding horses in Wisconsin and is thrilled to be working with us to save our Spanish Mustangs.
She is happy to call the Outer Banks home now and lives with husband Mark and dogs Ursa & Django. email Susan
Wesley Stallings has been the Herd Manager for the Corolla Wild Horse Fund since May 25, 2009. He moved to Grandy from Franklin County, North Carolina to assume the position. He has a degree in Agricultural Business with a concentration in Animal Science from North Carolina State University, a degree in Agricultural Education from NCA&T State University and he is planning on pursuing a graduate degree.
Wesley has been involved in the equine and livestock industry for over twenty years and grew up showing and training Quarter Horses. He has competed and placed in the largest Quarter Horse shows and rodeos across the nation. From 1994 to 2004, Wesley was the farm manager for an incorporated diverse livestock operation that raised livestock, forages, bred and trained horses and promoted up to twenty equine events annually. He also became a certified farrier by the Oklahoma State Horse Shoeing School. He was also employed by the North Carolina Department of Agriculture as the Assistant Market Manager for the Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agriculture Complex.
Wes and his wife Dawn are the proud parents of a young daughter who shares her parent’s love of horses. email Wesley
April Hudson, native of Tarboro, NC, came on with the Corolla Wild horse fund in June of 2012. She attended Martin Community College for Equine Technology where she met her first Colonial Spanish Mustang. She fell in love with their gentle nature, stunning beauty and unique history.
When she learned of the herd’s uncertain future she eagerly joined the Corolla Wild Horse Fund in their mission to protect and preserve them. Originally she came on as Sanctuary Patrol Officer and is now the Program Coordinator. April now lives in Jarvisburg, NC, with her dog Bling, and her horse Diesel. email April
Chris Wallace is originally from Greenville, NC. He graduated from East Carolina University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation & Tourism Management. After working in the Middle East as an activities director for the U.S Air Force, his passion for nature, wildlife, and the ocean brought him to the Outer Banks where he came on board with the Fund as our Patrol Coordinator in March of 2013. email Chris