News Release

2021 Shackleford Banks Horses Annual Findings Report Released

A mare, her yearling stand next to each other while the yearling provides a perch for a cattle egret on its baack

NPS photo/Crystal Wasley

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News Release Date: February 23, 2022

Contact: BG Horvat, 252-838-8906

HARKERS ISLAND, NC – The 2021 annual findings report on the Shackleford Banks horses has been released by Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Foundation for Shackleford Horses. This report, covering the calendar year 2021, is available on the park’s website at:

Highlights from the report include:

· At the end of 2021 there were 121 horses on Shackleford Banks.

· The herd is 61% female and 39% male. Of the 31 horses 15 years of age and older, 27 are female and 4 are male.

· The oldest living horse on the island is a 28 year old mare.

· Eleven foals were sighted.

· Herd mortality averages 6% between 1991 and 2001.

· Since 1999, the average lifespan of horses on Shackleford Banks has been approximately 11 years.

Cape Lookout National Seashore and the Foundation for Shackleford Horses emphasize that 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. These messages are regularly communicated in the media and through programs like the Park’s “Horse Sense and Survival” tours which will resume in 2022.

The park 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 6 through 8, 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.

Last updated: February 23, 2022

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