Program Outline

Cumberland Island is a National Seashore off the coast of Georgia and has been steeped in mystery and intrigue for hundreds of years. Once home to the prestigious Carnegie family, it became a National Seashore in 1972. There are still a few residents on the island and very limited privately owned property as most of the island is in the custody and control of the National Park Service (NPS).


Research

Herd Identification – proposed research of the current herd to include photo cataloging and identifying of individual herd members in their respective living groups, and pin point their geographic range on the island, determination of body score and noting any signs of illness, injury, reproductive capacity, population sampling to confirm parasite load and presence/absence of disease would also be conducted as part of herd identification. The herd identification portion of the program would be conducted under research standards in affiliation with a university and largely staffed by trained community volunteers.

Literature Review – conduct a full literature review of existing research concerning the horses on Cumberland Island, the environmental concerns about the horses on Cumberland Island and any literature available concerning horse management on barrier islands and/or in free roaming populations. This would include examination of other public/private partnership horse management program in place currently on other barriers islands along the eastern seaboard.

Public Benefit – Social science research to include survey of community members, park visitors and national interests to assess the perceived value to the public on both a local and national level of the free roaming herd on the island. The purpose of this research is to establish an intrinsic value of the herd to the population in order to determine the justice of the expenditure of public and/or private resources for the preservation and management of the herd for future generations.

Herd Management

Reduction of the Herd – Based upon identification findings, review of previous research available, and in concert with a veterinary/conservation team, a proposal for herd management would be developed to include an optimal number of horses, contraceptive options and a budget and needs assessment for financial and human capital necessary to implement a large scale horse management program. With approval and consensus of the NPS, the herd management program would be implemented as outlined and continually monitored.

Cooperative Public/Private Agreement – Utilizing other feral horse population management organizations as the guide, the Cumberland Island Horse Project aspires to work cooperatively with the NPS in the development and implementation of a plan for management of the herd. . The goal of the Cumberland Island Horse Project of LightHorse Healthcare, Inc. is NOT to establish an adversarial relationship with the NPS, but to develop a cooperative working relationship for the betterment of the island as a whole, including the wildlife, the wilderness, the residents and the NPS visitor and the community so deeply invested in this national treasure sitting just off our coast.

Community Education

Public Awareness – the Cumberland Horse Project aspires to serve as a conduit for information concerning the horses on Cumberland Island and the issues surrounding the herd. This includes the publishing of findings of research and literature review results and keeping the community abreast of the issues surrounding the herd and the herd’s impact on the island.

Experiential Education – with the horses managed appropriately, one of the largest draws to the island could be more meaningful and useful through the opportunity for experiential education offerings available as part of the public/private partnership between LightHorse Healthcare, Inc./Cumberland Island Horse Project and the National Parks Service. Imagine what it would be like if there were an interactive exhibit on the island providing a timeline and history of the horses on the island; telling the story of the ancient horses from the 1500’s, those that served as mounts and food during the civil war era, through the progress on the island brought through the usefulness of the horses as work animals to pull plows and provide transportation between the houses and telling the story of what the local herd meant to the local community in the days of Lucy Carnegie, a local race track and the horse trading of the 50’s and 60’s.

With a detailed and complex herd identification system that would be created through the horse management program in order to manage the herd effectively, scores of information on social behaviors and herd dynamics that could be shared through guided tours taking interested park visitors to observe herd groupings in their natural environment. If thousands of people are drawn to the island today to see unidentified ‘wild’ horses, how much more of an attraction would it be if it were possible to know their stories, their social and family history and their linage.

You

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Us

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horses

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How Can I Get Involved?

More than 1,000 people have responded to the recent social media posts concerning the announcement of the NPS director’s intent to remove the horses from the island. Join the Cumberland Island Horse Project, sign a petition to preserve the herd through a responsible public/private partnership management program, complete a volunteer application, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and come visit us at the LightHorse Healthcare, Inc. Administrative Offices at 115 Osborne Street, St. Marys, GA 31558