Horses were released on Cumberland Island in the 1920s for profit and pleasure—our pleasure, not theirs. They are grassland animals, designed for open plains, and they fare poorly in a forest situation. Tangles of vines snare their manes and tails, holding them until they dehydrate and starve. When they forage in the saltmarsh, they wade deep in mud to reach grass, sustain broken legs, and sometimes get so bogged down that they cannot get out. They await the incoming tide to drown. Many get snake bitten, some are caught by alligators, all are subject to encephalitis-bearing mosquitoes. Mares struggle to find enough to eat for two from the day mature, and foal mortality is great. These are not hypothetical possibilities; I have witnessed them all.
People who understand, know, and care for horses are appalled at the Cumberland situation. It is unconscionable to force horses to make a living in habitat so hostile to them, and a selfish act for us to ignore their plight because some of us think livestock roaming free is romantic.
View our photo slideshow of horses on Cumberland here.
Send a letter to the superintendent supporting his plan to remove feral horses from Cumberland by clicking here. Even better and more effective would be to send a letter by mail to Cumberland Island National Seashore, INS, 101 Wheeler st., St. Marys, GA 31558.