Warm Weather Lures Outer Banks Horses Onto Beach, Into Path Of Cars

Jan 13, 2020

File photo of wild horses along the Outer Banks. A group that manages herds of wild horses in coastal North Carolina is warning drivers to watch out for the animals taking advantage of unseasonably warm weather by sleeping on the sand at night.
Credit Thomas Wheeler / AltAdjust.com

  A group that manages herds of wild horses in coastal North Carolina is warning drivers to watch out for the animals taking advantage of unseasonably warm weather by sleeping on the sand at night.

Temperatures in the 60s and 70s across the Carolinas have the Outer Banks wild horses acting “more like it’s June, not January,” the Corolla Wild Horse Fund said in a message posted to social media on Sunday. 

The horses are migrating toward the east side of the barrier islands for cooler temperatures by the ocean. Normally, the horses stay on the sound side, in a marshy area where the animals have food. 

Corolla Wild Horse Fund Herd Manager Meg Puckett says the horses’ behavior has impacted the work flow of her team. 

“This is the time of year where we all kind of decompress and rest a little bit and get ready for the next tourist season. So when it pretends to be summer time in January, it kinda changes everybody's routine,” said Puckett. 

She warned people driving on the beach to slow down — especially at night — to avoid hitting the horses. 

The horses are also moving to get away from insects that have emerged from their nocturnal season early because of the warm weather, said Puckett. The National Weather Service says temperatures will remain unseasonably high for the next few days, but should go back to cooler temperatures by late this weekend.