H.R. 126: Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act

H.R. 126

Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act

Date
June 3, 2013 (113th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, June 3, 2013, the House will consider H.R. 126, the Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act,under a suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on January 3, 2013 by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which reported the bill by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

H.R. 126 directs the Secretary of the Interior to enter into an agreement with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, a non-profit organization, regarding the management of free-roaming wild horses within and around the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge in North Carolina.  The bill stipulates that the horse population shall be between 110-130 horses and allows for the introduction of a small number of individual horses from Cape Lookout National Seashore in order to maintain the genetic diversity of the Currituck population.  The bill also stipulates that the costs associated with maintaining the herd are to be borne by the Corolla Wild Horse Fund.

Background

The wild herd of Colonial Spanish Mustangs has survived in North Carolina for over 500 years after being first introduced by Spanish explorers.  Today, the herd is comprised of about 117 animals and roams freely on the Currituck Outer Banks, including on nearly 3,000 acres of public land in and around the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.[1] 

The Currituck Wild Horse Fund (CWHF) was established in 1988 to help support the wild mustang herd and to educate the public.  In 2007, the last Wild Horse Management Plan was approved with the concurrence of the CWHF, which limited the size of the herd.  In 2008, CWHF requested that the herd limit be increased and horses from other herds added out of concern for genetic diversity.  The Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) denied both requests, and now the 2007 Management Plan has expired.[2]

H.R. 126 requires the Secretary of the Interior to enter into a new agreement with the CWHF, the County of Currituck and the State of North Carolina providing for an increased herd size between 110-130 horses, and allowing for the introduction of new horses as needed to maintain genetic diversity.

Similar legislation (H.R. 306) passed the House in the 112thCongress on February 6, 2012 by voice vote.


[1] See Committee Report 113-77

[2] Id.

Cost

CBO estimates that the federal government would “incur no significant additional costs to manage or mitigate the effects of horses on the refuge,” as a result of enacting H.R. 126.  Further, “enacting H.R. 126 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.”[1]  However, CBO prefaced “if … CWF was unable to maintain the population at or below 130 horses as required under the bill, CBO expects the USFWS would incur costs totaling $200,000 a year to manage the horses. Such spending would be subjected to the availability of appropriated funds.