Billboard warns against treats for Outer Banks wild horses

COROLLA, N.C. -- Property owners, merchants, and wild horse enthusiasts are urging the summer flood of tourists to North Carolina's Outer Banks to let the area's wild horses stay wild.

The boldest signal is a highway billboard warning that apples and carrots meant as treats can actually kill wild horses, reports The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Virginia.

The 100 horses roaming the area near the Virginia border cannot eat food that is not from their natural habitat, said Jo Langone, chief operating officer of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. The horses graze on grasses found in meadows, along the sandy roadsides and on lawns. Other foods can cause colic and can be deadly, she said.

The billboard is part of a local effort to reduce harmful interactions between visitors to the Currituck Outer Banks and the herd that lives in maritime forests and among the dunes there.

Visitors "think they are more gentle creatures," Langone said. "They should think of them in a different way. They're wild. They're like a wild bear."

For example, stallions can suddenly begin to fight another stallion. The herd might quickly begin running without any notice or concern of bystanders.

So property owners along a North Carolina beachfront strip only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles are posting yard signs to reinforce a local law requiring people to stay 50 feet away from the rugged critters. Retail stores in Duck and Corolla are donating sign space for similar messages.
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