Pony Express



Dear Editor:

In a world that is often too busy with people who are too often unwilling to take a stand, a woman in Beaufort, North Carolina, stands apart from the crowd. She is Elizabeth Loftin, a photographer and writer, and she has dedicated the last seven years of her life to trying to protect the wild horses of Shackleford Banks and the wild horses of Carrot Island across from Beaufort, North Carolina, from the very people who are in charge of protecting these horses, the National Park Service. Shackleford Banks comes under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service as a result of being part of Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Elizabeth needs your help! It is urgent!

Elizabeth, born in Beaufort, North Carolina, grew up with these wild horses. They had roamed free on these islands for over 400 years, long before the islands fell under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The horses first came to islands off the North Carolina coast when they swam ashore after a Spanish ship filled with supplies, including Spanish Mustang horses, wrecked off North Carolina's coast.

In the early 90's the National Park Service announced a management plan for the horses of these islands. First, they claimed the horses were starving and destroying native vegetation. They further claimed the horses were not wild, but were exotic. Elizabeth's photographs proved that the horses were not starving and that these horses who had lived on these islands for over 400 years were not destroying the native vegetation.

Then the Park Service, in 1996, claimed that a portion of this herd had the highly contagious disease, Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). Only a portion of the herd had this very contagious disease. They rounded horses up with dogs, cowboys on horses and ATVs and then transported these terrified wild animals to the mainland. Elizabeth photographed and witnessed these activities.

Seventy plus of the horses were transported to the mainland by the National Park Service and then driven inland where they awaited their destiny - death at the hands of the very agency in charge of protecting them.

In 1998, the National Park Service also used helicopters to round up these horses. In the words of the National Park Service representative, "We were not successful with the use of helicopters --- we ran one horse into a tree and broke his neck." One of the horses killed by the National Park Service during this helicopter roundup was a breeding stallion.

Elizabeth Loftin and others ask the questions: Why are these horses treated so differently by the National Park Service than other wild animals in other National Parks? Why are they rounded up? Why are they killed? Horses on Shackleford Banks and Carrot Island are branded. Elizabeth and others ask, why are they branded? Some are branded on their rumps, one in particular has been branded all down his neck. Why aren't ear tags used? What is going on at Shackleford Banks and Carrot Island off of Beaufort, North Carolina?

These questions need to be answered. The Park Service "justifies" what they are doing. Do they have a right to such justification? These are questions that deserve a national inquiry to get an answer.

Elizabeth has spent a lifetime, from 5 years old to 40 years old, with these horses. She knows their behavioral patterns. She is one with their habitat and with them.

There is an article in the May/June issue of Nature Photographer magazine, written by Elizabeth Loftin, about these horses of Shackleford Banks. You can obtain a copy of this magazine by sending a 9"x13" self addressed, stamped envelope (6 first class stamps affixed to the envelope) to Nature Photographer Magazine at P.O. Box 690518, Quincy, MA 02269.

You can contact Elizabeth at 2371 Lennoxville Road, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516.

She continues to fight for the lives of these wild animals, for their right to live in the wilderness in which they have lived for over 400 years.

This issue of the protection of the lives of these horses was important enough that Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina introduced a bill into Congress to protect 109 horses on Shackleford Banks; it is HR 765 and was introduced into law in August 1998.

Yet, the Park Service still had another roundup in 1999. This time they said there are no horses with Equine Infectious Anemia on Shackleford, but now there is new research being carried out to decide whether to use long-term conception control on these horses and the horses on Carrot Island.

What are they doing? Why?

Would you please consider contacting Elizabeth Loftin at 2371 Lennoxville Road, Beaufort, North Carolina 28516?

Thank you.

A Concerned Citizen