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113th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                     113-77

======================================================================



 
                   COROLLA WILD HORSES PROTECTION ACT

                                _______
                                

  May 17, 2013.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

 Mr. Hastings of Washington, from the Committee on Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 126]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 126) to direct the Secretary of the Interior to 
enter into an agreement to provide for management of the free-
roaming wild horses in and around the Currituck National 
Wildlife Refuge, having considered the same, report favorably 
thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 126 is to direct the Secretary of the 
Interior to enter into an agreement to provide for management 
of the free-roaming wild horses in and around the Currituck 
National Wildlife Refuge.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    While it is not precisely known when the Corolla horses 
arrived on the Currituck Outer Banks in North Carolina, there 
is evidence that they were introduced by Spanish explorers 500 
years ago. In 2007, the National Horse of the Americas Registry 
recognized and registered these horses as Colonial Spanish 
Mustangs. The wild horses of Currituck have survived nearly 
five centuries of fierce hurricanes, severe droughts, floods 
and swarms of biting insects. Today, the herd is comprised of 
about 117 animals that live on approximately 7,544 acres of 
public and private lands. This is divided as follows: 4,671 
acres are privately owned by individuals and corporations; 
2,495 acres are part of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge; 
326 acres are found in the North Carolina National Estuarine 
Research Reserve; and 51 acres are owned by The Nature 
Conservancy.
    In 1988, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund (CWHF) was established 
to support the Spanish mustangs in the wild and to educate the 
public about the history of the herd. The Fund was also 
instrumental in the enactment of a 1989 Wild Horse Ordinance 
which made it unlawful for ``any person to lure, attract, or 
entice a wild horse to come within 50 feet of any person'' or 
``any person to lure or entice a wild horse out of a wild horse 
sanctuary.'' In Currituck County, the wild horse sanctuary is 
defined to extend from Corolla, North Carolina, to the Virginia 
state line.
    In 2007, the last Wild Horse Management Plan was approved 
with the concurrence of the CWHF, the County of Currituck, the 
State of North Carolina and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(FWS). Under this plan, the maximum number of horses was 
limited and FWS was permitted to control the population of 
these horses ``through adoption, relocation, auction or 
contraceptive fertility methods.'' In April 2008, CWHF formally 
requested that the maximum herd size be increased and that a 
small number of mares from the Shackleford Banks herd be 
introduced to restore diversity to the Corolla horses gene 
pool. Both requests were denied by FWS, and the Wild Horse 
Management Plan has now expired.
    The Currituck National Wildlife Refuge was established in 
1984 to manage waterfowl, migratory birds, and endangered 
species such as piping plovers and sea turtles. FWS will allow 
wild horses to freely roam the Refuge as long as the horses do 
not significantly impact habitat or wildlife. While FWS has 
been unable to quantify any negative impacts of the eight 
Corolla horses that utilize refuge land, FWS views the Corolla 
wild horses as an introduced feral animal.
    On June 8, 2011, the Acting Deputy Director of FWS 
submitted a letter outlining various estimates of the annual 
costs of managing the wild horses, the additional expenses FWS 
may incur and an estimate of one-time costs as a result of the 
enactment of a predecessor bill to H.R. 126. While the 
Committee appreciates having this information, it lacks detail, 
justification and specificity. For instance, there is no 
explanation why it would cost FWS an additional $160,000 a year 
to manage these horses simply because this legislation is 
enacted into law. H.R. 126 does not mandate any additional 
management requirements for FWS and there is no indication that 
FWS intends to assign staff to what is currently an unstaffed 
refuge or that it intends to build a visitor center, roads, 
hiking trails or any facilities which currently do not exist. 
The projected costs do not match up with existing or future 
management requirements.
    Second, after carefully examining the estimated annual 
costs, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of these 
expenditures are for a new wildlife biologist, staff salaries, 
expenses such as a horse survey, adoption and feed of wild 
horses, and veterinary costs. With the exception of a new 
biologist and staff salaries, each of those expenses will be 
incurred by the CWHF and not FWS. The Committee finds that in 
the 2006 Comprehensive Conservation Plan, which is required for 
all wildlife refuges, there is language that states: ``The 
assistant manager performs the functions of a wildlife 
biologist. The refuge needs additional staff to meet its 
objectives. The biological and public use programs are 
currently the greatest needs.'' The document goes on to 
describe the types of activities that the new wildlife 
biologist would perform including conducting surveys of 
shorebirds, establishing an inventory protocol for neotropical 
migratory songbirds and monitoring the impacts of feral hogs on 
vegetation and habitat. It appears that FWS is now trying to 
using this legislation to justify the hiring of a new wildlife 
biologist, which was an identified need for Currituck long 
before the introduction of this legislation.
    Third, included within the estimated one-time costs with 
the passage of this legislation are $186,000 for a new barn and 
corral for the horses, $54,000 for a new boat and trailer, 
pickup truck and utility vehicle, and $26,000 for wild herd 
examinations. Together, these represent $266,000 of the 
$285,000 FWS has identified as ``one-time'' costs. In 
justifying the need for a new barn and corral, FWS has stated 
that it is needed for those horses it captures/handles and for 
herd examinations. If this is the case, then FWS would be in 
direct violation of the Currituck County Code of Ordinances as 
it applies to wild horses. Specifically the Ordinance says, 
``No person shall possess, harbor or keep in possession by 
confinement any wild horse. The provision of this section shall 
not apply to the keeping of wild horses in a licensed 
veterinary hospital or other location for treatment under the 
care and supervision of a licensed veterinarian.'' In addition, 
FWS has not provided any details on the need for these new 
vehicles and the CWHF is responsible for all health-related 
activities and costs, including herd examinations.
    This legislation would require the Secretary of the 
Interior to enter into a new agreement with the CWHF, the 
County of Currituck, and the State of North Carolina within 180 
days after the date of enactment. Under the terms of the new 
agreement, the size of the herd would be ``not less than 110 
and not more than 130 free-roaming wild horses.'' It would also 
provide for the cost-effective management of the herd and the 
introduction of a small number of free-roaming wild horses from 
the herd at the Cape Lookout National Seashore. There is no 
cost to the federal government for the management of these 
horses and no authorization of appropriations. All expenses 
related to the wild horse management throughout their range 
have been and would continue to be paid by the CWHF.
    The proponents argue that the two primary reasons for this 
bill are the refusal of FWS to enter into a new Wild Horse 
Management Plan and the view of the CWHF that, ``Without 
introductions from the Shackleford Banks herd and a larger herd 
size, the wild horses of Corolla are at great risk of genetic 
collapse and disappearing altogether. Managing the wild horses 
of Corolla at a maximum of 60 is managing for extinction.'' 
Bill supporters cite Dr. Gus Colthran of the College of 
Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M; University who notes that, 
``Horses of the Corolla herd show levels of genetic variability 
that are among the lowest seen in any horse population. Under 
the circumstances that the Corolla herd is now in, a minimum 
number of 110 should be considered.''

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 126 was introduced on January 3, 2013, by Congressman 
Walter Jones, Jr. (R-NC). The bill was referred to the 
Committee on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular 
Affairs. On April 24, 2013, the Full Natural Resources 
Committee met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee on 
Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs was discharged 
by unanimous consent. No amendments were offered, and the bill 
was then adopted and ordered favorably reported to the House of 
Representatives by unanimous consent.

            COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    Regarding clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee on Natural Resources' oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. Cost of Legislation. Clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives requires an estimate and 
a comparison by the Committee of the costs which would be 
incurred in carrying out this bill. However, clause 3(d)(2)(B) 
of that rule provides that this requirement does not apply when 
the Committee has included in its report a timely submitted 
cost estimate of the bill prepared by the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974. Under clause 3(c)(3) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has 
received the following cost estimate for this bill from the 
Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

H.R. 126--Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act

    H.R. 126 would require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(USFWS) to enter into an agreement with the Corolla Wild Horse 
Fund (CWHF), a nonprofit organization, to manage wild horses in 
and around the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge. The wild 
horse population in the area is currently managed under a 
similar agreement between USFWS and CWHF. The new agreement 
would require CWHF to maintain a wild horse population totaling 
between 120 and 130 and would specify that CWHF is responsible 
for certain costs associated with managing the wild horse 
population.
    Based on information provided by CWHF, CBO expects that, 
under the bill, the organization would manage the wild horse 
population using private funds; we estimate that the federal 
government would incur no significant additional costs to 
manage or mitigate the effects of horses on the refuge. If, 
however, CWHF was unable to maintain the population at or below 
130 horses as required under the bill, CBO expects that USFWS 
would incur costs totaling roughly $200,000 a year to manage 
the horses. Such spending would be subject to the availability 
of appropriated funds. Enacting H.R. 126 would not affect 
direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go 
procedures do not apply.
    H.R. 126 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. The 
estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.
    2. Section 308(a) of Congressional Budget Act. As required 
by clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives and section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget 
Act of 1974, this bill does not contain any new budget 
authority, spending authority, credit authority, or an increase 
or decrease in revenues or tax expenditures. Based on 
information provided by CWHF, CBO expects that, under the bill, 
the organization would manage the wild horse population using 
private funds; we estimate that the federal government would 
incur no significant additional costs to manage or mitigate the 
effects of horses on the refuge. If, however, CWHF was unable 
to maintain the population at or below 130 horses as required 
under the bill, CBO expects that USFWS would incur costs 
totaling roughly $200,000 a year to manage the horses. Such 
spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated 
funds.
    3. General Performance Goals and Objectives. As required by 
clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general performance goal or 
objective of this bill is to direct the Secretary of the 
Interior to enter into an agreement to provide for management 
of the free-roaming wild horses in and around the Currituck 
National Wildlife Refuge.

                           EARMARK STATEMENT

    This bill does not contain any Congressional earmarks, 
limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined 
under clause 9(e), 9(f), and 9(g) of rule XXI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4

    This bill contains no unfunded mandates.

                       COMPLIANCE WITH H. RES. 5

    Directed Rule Making. The Chairman does not believe that 
this bill directs any executive branch official to conduct any 
specific rule-making proceedings.
    Duplication of Existing Programs. This bill does not 
establish or reauthorize a program of the federal government 
known to be duplicative of another program. Such program was 
not included in any report from the Government Accountability 
Office to Congress pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139 
or identified in the most recent Catalog of Federal Domestic 
Assistance published pursuant to the Federal Program 
Information Act (Public Law 95-220, as amended by Public Law 
98-169) as relating to other programs.

                PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any State, local or 
tribal law.

                        CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW

    If enacted, this bill would make no changes in existing 
law.

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

    H.R. 126 would call upon the Secretary of the Interior to 
enter into an agreement with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, as 
well as local and state authorities, to provide for the 
management of the free-roaming wild horses in and around the 
Currituck National Wildlife Refuge on North Carolina's Outer 
Banks. Wild horses live on the public and private lands of 
Currituck County, and may be descendant from those brought by 
the Spanish, or may have been put there more recently to avoid 
mainland taxes and provide summer grazing. H.R. 126 would 
require the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the Service) to 
maintain a herd of no less than 110 horses, with a target 
population of 120-130 horses.
    These wild horses are not native to the United States, and 
have a destructive impact on native plant and animal species 
and their habitat. The Currituck National Wildlife Refuge was 
established in 1984 to preserve and protect an important 
coastal barrier island ecosystem. The 4,500 acre Refuge 
provides essential habitat for migrating waterfowl and 
endangered species such as piping plover, sea turtles, and sea 
beach amaranth. The Service views the horses as feral, and 
manages them to minimize damage to the Refuge as time and funds 
allow, including by fencing them out of critical habitat areas 
and off of Refuge lands when practicable.
    The Service opposes H.R. 126 because it would undermine the 
agency's ability to fulfill its core conservation mission at 
Currituck National Wildlife Refuge, forcing the Service to 
instead devote scarce resources to caring for non-native 
animals that degrade wildlife habitat. We share the Service's 
concerns, and support the ongoing effort to resolve this 
conflict administratively, rather than through legislation. 
Indeed, in 2007 the Service entered into a joint management 
agreement with the Corolla Wild Horse Fund, the County of 
Currituck, and the North Carolina Department of Environment and 
Natural Resources to implement a cooperative management 
strategy for horses on public and private lands, and we believe 
that framework should be used to address any new management 
issues.
                                   Edward J. Markey.
                                   Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan.