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Contact: Wouter Ketel, (252) 728-2250 Ext. 3005
Harkers Island, N.C.-- Federal legislation, passed in 1998, protects the horses within Cape LookoutNational Seashore and requires an annual report on the status of the herd. This report covers from Spring 2007 to Spring 2008. The horses are cooperatively managed by the National Park Service and the Foundation for Shackleford Horses, Inc., pursuant to the legislation, and a Memorandum of Understanding updated in 2007.
There are 116 horses on Shackleford Banks. Ten foals were born in 2007. One died before being identified, a second died from congenital defects of unknown origin. Two foal deaths in a year are within normal limits for wild horses and for Shackleford Banks. Five young horses were removed to go to adoptive homes. The Foundation handles public adoptions and usually has horses available.
Adult mortality was below average; a two-year-old died in August and an eight-year-old in December. The oldest living mares are 25 years old and the oldest living stallions are 22 and 23.
Birth control was administered to 24 of the 64 mares. Mares who did not receive the booster are either desired as parents for lineage reasons or have received a number of boosters in the past.
Generally, birth control is given to mares from well represented lines. Mares from less well represented lines are not given birth control; this gives them the opportunity to foal and thus carry on their family lines. The birth control program also decreases the birth rate.
Porcine Zonae Pellucidae (PZP) is the birth control used on Shackleford Banks horses. This immunocontraceptive is authorized for use by the United States Food and Drug Administration and regulated by the Humane Society of the United States. PZP is generally more than 90% effective.
Approximately eight foals are expected in 2008. One of these is likely the offspring of a stallion whose line is not well represented and, as such, is a particularly welcome addition. While birth control can be withheld from a mare by plan, it’s up to the stallions to fight to keep their mares and thus pass on their genes.
Foals from well-represented lines may be removed. Removed youngsters will be available for adoption to the public; contact the Foundation for an application.
For further information, contact Dr. Sue Stuska, Wildlife Biologist – Horses, at Cape Lookout National Seashore, (252) 728-2250, ext. 3017, or Carolyn S. Mason, Chairman and President, Foundation for Shackleford Horses, Inc., (252) 728-6308. For adoption information, contact Anita Kimball at (252) 241-5222.