"It's hard enough to survive."

By Meghan Overdeep
September 27, 2018

Our nation's wild horses face innumerable threats, the least of which being hurricanes. Experts say it's humans, and their uncanny ability to ruin nearly all that is precious and fragile in this world, that pose the biggest threats to wild horses.

As Corolla herd manager Meg Puckett explained to The News & Observer, "getting too close, touching or feeding the horses threatens the herd's survival and puts the people doing it in immediate danger."

Yet people seem increasingly willing to endanger both themselves and the herd for the sake of a photo.

Recently, a visitor's selfie with a young stallion named Chili Pepper enraged Puckett to such an extent that she shared it on the Corolla Wild Horse Fund's Facebook page along with a stern warning.

"He is a young Banker stallion, still fighting to establish his dominance in the herd and build a harem of mares. He is one of only about 200 Colonial Spanish mustangs left in the wild," Puckett wrote. "He is the state horse of North Carolina. He is protected by the Currituck County wild horse ordinance."

"Chili is NOT a prop for your selfie," she continued.

The photo appears innocent enough, but Puckett insists that that's not the case.

"They're wild animals," Puckett told The News & Observer. "They can be really dangerous. They can bite, kick. Nine times out of ten, they're pretty laid back and docile, but it doesn't take much. If a horse bit down at full power on your arm, it would snap it in a second."

Puckett's Facebook post elaborated on the danger humans pose to the horses.

"Horses that become habituated risk removal from the wild. They could seriously injure someone. They could become seriously injured themselves. Don't take advantage of these horses' good natures."

And trying to lure these wild beauties with food is just as bad.

"Horses have really sensitive digestive system," Puckett explained. "We've had horses die from being fed."

At the end of the day. Puckett and her team are just trying to do what's best for everyone. There's a reason Currituck County has an ordinance requiring people to stay at least 50 feet away from the wild horses that comes with a $500 fine.

"It's hard enough to survive," she told The News & Observer. "They're losing habitat. We're not asking much. We just want to educate people. I know the people who do this like the horses and want them there. But this puts everyone in danger. All we're asking people to do is be respectful and stay away."

Puckett concluded her now-viral Facebook post with a plea to selfie-takers.

"Please, please, please don't do this. The horses' life in the wild is precarious enough without humans interfering, and if this kind of behavior continues, before long they may not have a life in the wild. That's just the sad reality," she wrote. "If you love the horses, admire them from a distance. Help us keep them wild and free."

To learn more about Corolla's wild horses and how you can contribute to their management, visit CorollaWildHorses.com.