TWS, along with the National Wildlife Refuge Association and The Society for Range Management, sent a letter to the Senate Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife opposing S. 1204, the “Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act.”
The bill, which is sponsored by Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), would require the Fish and Wildlife Service to enter into an agreement with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund to allow for a herd of 110 to 130 free-ranging horses on the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina.
The organizations were concerned that S.1204 would undermine the ability of the Fish and Wildlife Service to meet Refuge System objectives. The Refuge System Administration Act establishes the National Wildlife Refuge System with the clear intent to “provide for the conservation, protection, and propagation of native species of fish and wildlife.” Free-ranging horses are non-native species with potential to significantly impact natural ecosystems.
S.1204 establishes a Congressionally-mandated herd size instead of allowing the Fish and Wildlife Service to determine an appropriate population level of feral horses that is compatible with native wildlife. The letter recommends that the Service should instead be directed to maintain the original purpose of the Currituck Refuge to primarily manage for native wildlife, with flexible herd population levels that allow for changing conditions and habitats within the refuge.
S.1204 has been assigned to the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife for consideration before it can be progressed to the entire Senate. A companion measure, H.R. 152, was previously introduced in the House this year. Similar legislation has been introduced and passed the House, but not the Senate, during two previous sessions of Congress.
|Colleen Hartel is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.