Everyone knows Raymond: Last mule living with Outer Banks wild horses

Raymond and his harem. Posted online by Patch.com. Click to visit story.
Raymond and his harem. Posted online by Patch.com.

This is some story. “One wild mule found alive among wild horses on Outer Banks”. Have you read it? It’s from The Charlotte Observer. By Mark Price. July 18, 2018.

He staggered off into an island marsh and vanished last winter, leading conservationists to believe the last mule living among North Carolina’s wild coastal mustangs had died.

But Raymond, as locals call him, proved too stubborn to go quietly.

Not only has the once-crippled mule re-emerged on Corolla’s beaches, but he picked up a harem of three mares.

“He’s sterile, but he doesn’t know it and we’re not going to tell him,” says herd manager Meg Puckett. “He challenged a much younger stallion for those mares and he won. That’s saying a lot.”

Even she thought Raymond had died after a risky last-ditch effort was made in November to save him. A group of specialists with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund drugged Raymond and literally sawed down his hooves, which had become so deformed he couldn’t walk.

“A domestic horse would not have survived. He was just too stubborn to die,” Puckett says. “It’s that ornery, stubborn side that has made him one of the best known of the herd. Everyone knows Raymond.”

Islanders took to social media recently to celebrate the return of “the mule who thinks he is a mustang,” as Ann Litzelman put it on Facebook.

See also “Last Mule On Outer Banks So Stubborn He Refuses to Die” at Patch.com who also posted the image above with their own story on Raymond.

Take Action: North Carolina’s historic horses in jeopardy

Cross-posted from One Green Planet

WHEN CORDERO, a wild foal, was first spotted on North Carolina’s famed Outer Banks, the tides were too high to bring a trailer. For the four days that followed, Karen McCalpain, director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, and volunteers searched for him through wooded areas and marsh until they happened upon him and his family.

Cordero was born with severe front leg deformities – a result of inbreeding. Sadly, due to the severity of his condition, he had to be euthanized.

“I have been in this position for nearly 10 years, and I have watched the number of deformities in small foals steadily increase over this period,” McCalpain explains. “Something desperately needs to be done.”

The Corolla wild horses represent one of the oldest and rarest strains of Colonial Spanish horses. They are listed as a critically endangered breed and have been present in the area since the 1500s. They have survived hurricanes, noreasters, and encroaching development, but these cherished horses may not survive the genetic crisis they now face unless legislation is passed to protect them.

An amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act has recently been introduced by North Carolina Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, and could be the solution to securing the future for this historic herd.

The amendment merely seeks to increase the number of horses allowed from the current population of 82 to between 110 and 130 in order to improve the herd’s genetic viability.

The Burr-Tillis amendment mirrors the Shackleford Banks Wild Horses Protection Act, which conferred protection for the wild horses at Cape Lookout National Seashore, Shackleford Banks, NC.

The Shackleford wild horses have been effectively managed at between a population of 110 and 130 for the last 18 years in peaceful co-existence with the ecosystem and recreational activities in a habitat less than half the size of the Corolla herd’s range.


The Burr-Tillis amendment may come before the Senate for a floor vote in the next few days. There is not a moment to waste. You can take action by contacting your Senators today.

Don’t wait. If you prize our wild horses, please do this right now.

Campaign Originators: American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign

Feds agree to help diversify Outer Banks’ wild horses

Corolla wild horses. Google image.
Corolla wild horses. Google image.

Cross-posted from the McClatchy Washington Bureau via ADN.com »


WASHINGTON — As the summer tourist season approaches on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, there’s a growing hope among horse advocates that the iconic wild horses of Corolla can be saved from a fate of inbreeding and deformities.

US Fish and Wildlife Service Logo

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which considers the horses “nuisance animals” that compete with federally protected birds for habitat, has loosened its stance and is allowing the introduction of new horses into the threatened herd in order to bring in fresh genes.

“It’s almost too good to be true,” said Karen McCalpin, executive director of the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, which protects the Spanish mustangs.

The horses have survived on a narrow barrier island in the northern edge of North Carolina’s Outer Banks for some 500 years, believed to be descendants of colonial mounts that swam to shore after Spanish galleons ran aground on the shoals and sandbars of the Outer Banks.

Corolla wild horses enjoys the shade of a beach umbrella. Google image.

They are some of the last remaining wild horses in the Eastern United States and a hugely popular tourist attraction. But the herd of about 100 horses has become severely inbred and is down to a single maternal line, resulting in deformities and fears of extinction.

Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., repeatedly pushed a bill to allow the herd to grow to 130 horses and to let the Corolla Wild Horse Fund bring in horses from a different island at the far southern tip of the Outer Banks in order to infuse fresh genes into the herd. But the Fish and Wildlife Service successfully opposed the bill — some of the horses cross into the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, and the Fish and Wildlife Service considers them a problem.

Under pressure from horse advocates and members of Congress, though, the Fish and Wildlife Service is now letting outside horses join the Corolla herd under a new management plan for the horses.

“We aren’t objecting to the new horses for genetic diversity, and we are part of the new management plan for the Corolla herd,” said Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom MacKenzie.

McCalpin is still pressing for Congress to pass Jones’ bill letting the herd go up to 130 horses. Without it, she fears the Fish and Wildlife Service might decide at any time to limit the herd. Read full report »

Study looks at how many NC wild horses are enough (NC)

Is that the future I see before me, a Corolla horses asks.  That will be two years and $800,000 first, please, the townfolk cry.
Is that the future I see before me, a Corolla horses asks. That will be two years and $800,000 first, please, the townfolk cry.

Get off the beach and quit using grass, horses, or else, except for some of you. We need to find out first though but we’ll be fair and all scientific about it.

That’s what they’re saying to the Outer Banks horses who take a dip and wander the dunes with their offspring in and around those parts of North Carolina.

That space if reserved for touristy folks who spend lots of money, and you don’t, scream the frustrated townies, even though the horses sell hats and tee-shirts to pay their way.

So now these bright lights have decided to spend years and lots of tourist dollars the ancient herd brings in for them figuring out how many horses they can let use their sandy patches and eat their succulent weeds.

Just when you thought it was safe to come out of the water.

COROLLA, N.C. — A study is being launched to determine what impact wild horses have on the northern Outer Banks of North Carolina, where the animals compete increasingly with visitors for space.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund estimates the study could cost $800,000 and take up to two years, The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reported Monday.

Karen McCalpin, executive director of the fund, said the group plans to commission researchers from N.C. State to examine the effects the horse herd has on marshes and grass.

The fund and the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge agreed in 1999 to limit the herd to about 60 horses. The herd currently numbers 101 and McCalpin said she thinks a herd of 120 to 130 would be good for long-term health.

“We have no science on the actual impact of the horses,” McCalpin said.

Wild horses at Corolla are descended from Spanish mustangs and are popular tourist attractions. Sales of shirts and hats with horses on them helps pay for managing the herd.

N.C. State agreed last summer to conduct the study, said County Manager Dan Scanlon. Federal officials also agreed the study was needed, said Mike Bryant, project leader for North Carolina coastal refuges.

The study also would measure the effects of humans and feral hogs. Some 960 Outer Banks acres owned by the North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve would be included.

Genetics expert Gus Cothran of Texas A&M University has conducted research that showed the North Carolina herd had low genetic diversity because of breeding in a small population. The lack of diversity could cause defects.

More than 4,000 acres on the northern Outer Banks are in the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, where migratory bird protection is the primary mission, said Bryant. The horses have grazed on marsh grass typically used by waterfowl for food and shelter. >> Associated Press report bought and paid for by KRAL-TV Channel 5