Corolla, N.C. (WTKR) - Despite all the outreach and education, it seems some people still aren't getting the message not to do dangerous things around the wild horses in Corolla.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund is warning visitors NOT to approach, touch or try to feed the wild horses on the beaches.
In 2014, a visitor to the Outer Banks snapped photos of a family with children climbing sand dunes and getting dangerously close to the horses.
"I think it's because our horses don't run when they see people, people assume that they are not wild and that's a very dangerous misconception," Corolla Wild Horse Fund Executive Director Karen McCalpin told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo.
This year, two women posed for a "selife" with a wild horse that was posted to Instagram.
"When I saw it, I was really frustrated because we spend so much time and this isn't an isolated incident. It's not like a one-off thing where one girl shot a selfie close to the horses. This is something that is all day every day and we see it in person and then we see it on social media and then there's all the stuff that we don't see so we know there's that much more," Herd Manager Christina Reynolds stated.
Currituck County adopted a civil ordinance in 1989 that makes it unlawful for any person to lure, attract or entice a wild horse to come within 50 feet of any person” and “any person to lure or entice a wild horse out of a wild horse sanctuary, or to seize and remove a wild horse from a wild horse sanctuary.” (Ord. of 12-18-89, pt. I, § 2; Ord. of 10-4-93, § 1)
Additional ordinances prohibit the feeding, riding, petting or approaching an animal with the intent to feed. (Ord. of 10-4-93, § 3)
Violating the ordinances is a civil offense that carries a fine.
"Some of the comments on our Facebook page surprised me - 'why are you making such a big deal about it, they were just making a family memory.' Well, they could have made a family memory of their child having a vicious bite or being kicked or injured and that's certainly not a memory we want people to leave with," McCalpin explained.
She says it's important to remember that the wild horses are tolerant - but they are not tame and getting too close can be dangerous.
"We want people to enjoy these horses but they need to do it from a respectful, a safe and a legal distance," McCalpin said.
If you spot someone getting too close to the wild horses, you're encouraged to Take Action and call the Currituck County Dispatch at 252-232-2216.