Experts believe they got to the Cape Lookout National Seashore by swimming four to five miles from their home on Cedar Island.

By Meghan Overdeep
November 13, 2019
Cedar Island Cow
Credit: Paula D. O'Malley

A national park on the Outer Banks has discovered cattle amongst its resident wild horses. Experts believe they got there by swimming four to five miles across the Core Sound from their home on Cedar Island during Hurricane Dorian.

The first bovine interloper was spotted on Cape Lookout National Seashore about a month after the storm and was joined by two more cows in the past few weeks. According to The Charlotte Observer, all three cows were living on Cedar Island when the hurricane created an eight-foot "mini tsunami" that swept much of the wildlife off the island, and claimed the lives of 28 wild horses.

Cape Lookout Spokesman B. G. Horvat told McClatchy news group that the trio are now grazing peacefully together on federal grass.

Horvat believes the cows somehow managed to survive the storm surge by swimming to the sliver of land. If they had been pushed any farther, they would have drifted into the Atlantic like some of the wild horses that died.

"I'll say it's about four miles across Core Sound," Horvat told McClatchy. "Remember, the cows and all the horses were swept away with the water surging back. Who knows exactly, but the cows certainly have a gripping story to share."

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The cattle, which are known by their nickname "sea cows" along the coast, are part of a herd of about 20 wild cows that roamed private land on Cedar Island. Most are believed to have died in the storm.

Out of concern for sea turtles, nesting birds, and other native wildlife, National Park Service officials have reportedly set a 30-day deadline for someone to submit a plan to remove them from Cape Lookout. Cedar Island native Woody Hancock, one of a handful of people who tend to the cattle, told McClatchy that he is working on a plan. The cows will likely have to be sedated and taken back to Cedar Island by boat.

Now, if that's not a moo-ving story of survival, we don't know what is!