How the Wild Horses of North Carolina’s Outer Banks Have Survived 500 Years of Hurricanes
Hurricane Dorian hit North Carolina on Friday morning, bringing with it flooding, power outages, and destructive winds. The Outer Banks—a chain of barrier islands off the coast—is currently the most dangerous place to be in the state, but a group of animals there is relying on centuries-old survival instincts to weather the storm.
As CNN reports, the wild horses of the Outer Banks have spent the last 500 years learning to deal with hurricanes. The Colonial Spanish mustangs were left on the islands by European explorers in the 16th century, and today they're considered feral.
When the horses sense changes in air pressure indicating severe weather on the way, they respond by forming a pack and marching to higher ground. Once they've reached an elevated point, they crowd together under sturdy oak trees with their butts facing the wind.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund manages the 100-odd wild horses on the islands, and it receives a flood of concerned inquiries about the animals every time a hurricane approaches. The organization does take some precautions: Ahead of Dorian, the horse's troughs were stocked with extra hay and water, and ID tags were braided into their manes in case they get lost. But when it comes to protecting them from the storm, the horses are perfectly equipped to take care of themselves.
Not all feral animals were as prepared for Hurricane Dorian as the Outer Banks horses are. Stray dogs are especially vulnerable during hurricanes; luckily, one animal lover in the Bahamas was willing to take in 100 of them.