HARKERS ISLAND — National Park Service staff at Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Foundation for Shackleford Horses report there were 111 horses on Shackleford Banks at the end of 2019.
The NPS at Cape Lookout issued its annual findings report on the Shackleford Banks horses Friday. The report is produced by the NPS at Cape Lookout and the Foundation for Shackleford Horses. It covere the calendar year 2019 and is available on the Cape Lookout website, go.nps.gov/horsereports.
According to the latest report, at the end of 2019 there were 111 horses on Shackleford Banks. The herd is 62% female and 38% male. Of the horses older than 20, there are two males and 15 females.
The oldest living horses on the island are two 26-year-old mares. Herd mortality was 12% in 2019, with 14 deaths. Mortality still averages at 6%.
The NPS at Cape Lookout and the Foundation for Shackleford Horses emphasize the most important factor in protecting the wild horses is public education. As a result, they have increased efforts to inform the public how best to watch the horses without interacting with them or interrupting their natural behavior, and those messages are communicated in media and through programs, like the Park’s “Horse Sense and Survival” tours.
The park now also offers visitors an opportunity to learn more about the wild horses by taking part in the Junior Ranger Wild Horse Protector activity.
Designed for kids in grades six through eight, a parent, guardian or youth leader may check out a backpack with instruments needed to complete activities like those done by the wild horse biologist. Upon completion, students receive an award and are certified as Wild Horse Protectors.