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 four full-time staff. The Herd Manager is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to respond to emergencies. The Chief Operating Officer oversees the retail store, the Trip of a Lifetime program, memberships and sponsorships, donor database management, and summer programs. Our Finance Manager handles all financial operations of the Fund and our Operations Coordinator manages reservations and other systems. Seasonal staff include Trip of a Lifetime guides, sanctuary patrol officers, retail store staff, and program support personnel. Everybody comes together to assist with horse emergencies.
Our primary programs include herd management, sanctuary patrol, rescue and rehabilitation, training, adoption, and education. Herd Management includes breed conservation, contraceptive darting, soil and plant studies, DNA testing, emergency response, necropsy, fence and cattle guard maintenance, habitat preservation, and advocacy. Summer children’s programming includes Meet a Mustang, when visitors to the museum can meet a rescued, gentled mustang. Would you like a representative to speak to your classroom or civic association? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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.