Our mission is “to protect, conserve, and responsibly manage the herd of wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs roaming freely on the northernmost Currituck Outer Banks, and to promote the continued preservation of this land as a permanent sanctuary for horses designated as the State Horse and defined as a cultural treasure by the state of North Carolina.” The Fund incorporated as a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit charity in 2001.
Between 1985 and 1996, twenty horses were killed by vehicles on the stretch of road between Duck and Corolla, and a group of citizen-volunteers came together to change this tragic, destructive pattern. Many of today’s visitors to the Outer Banks do not know that before 1985, the 17 mile stretch of road between Duck and Corolla remained unpaved and infrequently traveled. Paving that road opened the floodgates for development, tourism, and more and more contact between wild horses and humans – and their vehicles.
The early founders of CWHF researched and attempted several strategies to stop horse fatalities caused by traffic on Highway 12 between Duck and Corolla. In the end, the most effective solution, even though controversial, was to move the remaining twenty horses north of the paved road – to the “north beach” or “4×4 area.” (No one knows for certain how many wild horses were already in the roadless area north of Corolla.) By 1997, CWHF completed the southern sea-to-sound fence of the sanctuary, and the wild horses were relocated to the new “sanctuary”. The northern fence is eleven miles north, at the Virginia state line. Unfortunately for the horses, development continues to push north. Although referenced as a wild horse “sanctuary”, the 7,544 acres accessible to the horses is a mix of 1/3 public land and 2/3 private land. There are 3,150 platted lots with only 21% of the northern beaches currently developed. The beach is considered public road, and it is open to the public. It is the only access for residents of Corova, the growing community on the north end. Purchase the DVD, “Wild in Corolla,” to learn more about the formation of the Fund and its effort to relocate the horses. The film is narrated by Charles Kuralt.
The Fund employs five full-time staff members. The Herd Manager is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to respond to emergencies. The Chief Operating Officer oversees all operations in Corolla as well as the rehabilitation facility on the mainland. These operations include an education center, the retail store, and, with the assistance of a Donor Programs associate, membership, sponsorship programs and donor database management as well as seasonal activities for visitors. Our Finance Manager handles all financial operations of the Fund and our Trainor and Assistant Trainor are both based at the rehab facility to oversee the taming, gentling and training of all rescues. Part-time staffing includes sanctuary observers who document wild horse behavior and educate the public, retail store staff, and program support personnel. Everyone comes together to assist with horse emergencies.
Our primary programs include herd management, sanctuary patrol, rescue and rehabilitation, training, adoption, and education. Summer programming includes Meet a Mustang, when visitors can meet a rescued, gentled mustang at our Corolla location or at a scheduled event, and Paint a Mustang for youngsters and just those young at heart. Would you like a representative to speak to your classroom or civic association? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. New to our programming this year is an event called Member Mornings at the Farm in which we offer members and visitors once a week the opportunity to see the rescue horses that are currently under our care and the work that we do with them.
CWHF headquarters is located in the Ocean Club Centre near the Visitors Center in Corolla, where we also have an educational museum-store. We welcome visitors year-round and offer activities during the summer, including gentled Spanish Mustangs. All proceeds from our store and activities benefit the wild horses, and donations are tax deductible according to IRS regulations.