Outer Banks Wild Horses Fighting Back Against Invasive Plant by Chowing Down
Wild horses on the Outer Banks are protecting the environment by doing what they do best: eating.
The horses that roam North Carolina's barrier islands have reportedly developed a taste for watermilfoil, an invasive aquatic plant known for clogging waterways.
To dine on this problematic plant, horses will partially submerge themselves in water for extended periods of time—a bizarre scene recently captured on video by OBX Creative Souls Photography.
Corolla Wild Horse Fund shared the footage on Facebook last week along with an explanation of the behavior.
"Did you know the horses eat aquatic plants that grow in the marsh and canals?" herd manager Meg Puckett wrote." Milfoil is a favorite among the Banker horses and their grazing actually helps keep the environment healthy too! This non-native plant spreads rapidly and clogs up waterways, chokes out other vegetation, and becomes breeding grounds for mosquitoes."
As Puckett explained to McClatchy News, watermilfoil is low in calories, which means the horses have to eat a lot of it in order for it to be nutritious. Fortunately for the horses, there's plenty of it and very little competition.
"Not many other animals will eat it. It grows in the canals (which are man-made), but also in the marsh and along the sound side," Puckett said. "Wildlife folks spend a lot of time trying to keep it under control, because it can choke out an ecosystem so quickly."