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- During Hurricane Dorian, 28 wild horses were killed when a storm surge caused a “mini tsunami,” the Charlotte Observer reported.
- They were part of a herd of 49 horses that live on Cedar Island, which is located off the Outer Banks.
- Typically, wild horses innately know to move to higher ground when a storm surges. But in this case, the water was rising so rapidly they couldn’t move fast enough, herd manager Woody Hancock said.
- There are two other herds of horses that live in the Outer Banks, but they’re believed to have survived Dorian.
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When Hurrican Dorian hit the Outer Banks on September 6, there was an unexpected casualty: 28 wild horses.
The 28 horses were part of a herd 49 horses that live on Cedar Island, which is located off the Outer Banks, the Charlotte Observer reported.
“It was a mini tsunami,” herd manager Woody Hancock told the Observer. “The horses normally see the water start to rise in a storm and migrate to higher ground, but they just didn’t have time. The shift in the wind happened too fast and they were taken off guard and washed off the island.
Just 21 horses survived – and some did so by swimming to nearby islands, Hancock said. The horses were identified by their Cedar Island brands, he said.
Hancock told the Observer that the 8-foot-tall surge of water hit the island in less than an hour. He believes mainly young horses died during the storm.
“They didn’t have a chance,” he said.
There are two other herds of wild horses that live on the Outer Banks – one in Corolla and one in Shackleford Banks – and they are both believed to have survived the storm, the Charlotte Observer reported.
Wild horses intrinsically know what to do during a storm – even a hurricane, as Insider previously reported. When water levels rise, the horses seek higher ground and also form a huddle and go “butts to the wind,” OBX Today reported ahead of Dorian.
Cedar Island was believed to be safer than Corolla or Shackleford – and then the storm hit, Hancock said. Since Dorian, the horses’ bodies have been washing ashore in North Carolina, but not all horses have been accounted for, according to the Charlotte Observer.
“This has really affected everybody on the island,” Hancock said. “All the horses were named after local people on the island and so every family felt a connection to the herd.”
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