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114th Congress   }                                      {        Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session     }                                      {        114-84

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



 
                   COROLLA WILD HORSES PROTECTION ACT
                                _______
                                

 April 20, 2015.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Bishop of Utah, from the Committee on Natural Resources, submitted 
                             the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            ADDITIONAL VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 152]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Natural Resources, to whom was referred 
the bill (H.R. 152) 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. 152 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

    There is evidence that Corolla horses were introduced to 
the Currituck Outer Banks 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 
Corolla horses are a key part of North Carolina's heritage and 
are recognized as the state horse. Today, the herd is comprised 
of about 83 animals that live on approximately 7,544 acres of 
public and private lands. Of the total acreage, 4,671 acres are 
privately owned; 2,495 acres are part of the Currituck National 
Wildlife Refuge (NWR); 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 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 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 for any person to 
lure or entice a wild horse out of a wild horse sanctuary. In 
Currituck County, the wild horse sanctuary extends from 
Corolla, North Carolina, to the Virginia state line.
    The Currituck NWR was established by the U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service in 1984 to manage waterfowl, migratory birds, 
and endangered species such as piping plovers and sea turtles. 
The Service allows wild horses to freely roam the Refuge as 
long as the horses do not significantly impact existing 
wildlife populations or habitat. While the Service has been 
unable to quantify any negative impacts of the eight Corolla 
horses that utilize Refuge land, the Service views the Corolla 
wild horses as feral domestic animals.
    In 2007, a wild horse management plan was approved with the 
concurrence of the CWHF, Currituck County, the State of North 
Carolina, and the Service. Under this plan, the maximum number 
of horses was limited to 60 and the Service was permitted to 
control the herd population ``through adoption, relocation, 
auction or contraceptive fertility methods.'' Equine genetic 
scientists believe a herd comprised of just 60 horses threatens 
the herd's existence and viability due to high levels of 
inbreeding and low levels of genetic diversity. Dr. Gus 
Colthran of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M; 
University has found that ``[h]orses 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.''
    In April 2008, the CWHF formally requested that the maximum 
herd size be increased and that a small number of mares from 
the Shackleford Banks herd be introduced into the herd to 
restore diversity to the Corolla horses' gene pool. Both 
requests were denied by the Service, and the 2007 management 
plan has now expired. The proponents argue that the primary 
reasons for this legislation are the refusal of the Service to 
renegotiate the terms of the current agreement and the view of 
the CWHF that, ``[w]ithout 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.''
    H.R. 152 would require the Secretary of the Interior to 
enter into a new agreement with the CWHF, Currituck County, 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 to improve the herd's genetics.
    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 Committee on Natural Resources reported an identical 
bill (H.R. 126) on May 17, 2013 (House Report 113-77). The 
House of Representatives passed H.R. 126 by voice vote on June 
3, 2013.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    H.R. 152 was introduced on January 6, 2015, by Congressman 
Walter B. Jones (R-NC). The bill was referred to the Committee 
on Natural Resources, and within the Committee to the 
Subcommittee on Federal Lands. On March 24, 2015, the Natural 
Resources Committee met to consider the bill. The Subcommittee 
on Federal Lands was discharged by unanimous consent. No 
amendments were offered, and the bill was ordered favorably 
reported to the House of Representatives by unanimous consent 
on March 25, 2015.

            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. 152--Corolla Wild Horses Protection Act

    H.R. 152 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 110 and 130 and would specify that CWHF is responsible 
for certain costs associated with managing that 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 the 
level specified by 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. 152 would not affect direct 
spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do 
not apply.
    H.R. 152 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 LaFavre. 
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. According to the 
Congressional Budget Office, because the wild horse population 
would be managed by a private organization, the federal 
government would incur no significant additional costs to 
manage or mitigate the effect of the horses on the Currituck 
National Wildlife Refuge.
    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. 152 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. 152 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. 152 because it would undermine the 
agency's ability to fulfill its core conservation mission at 
Currituck 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.
    Further, the Service has indicated that a land exchange is 
in the work that would allow the Refuge to trade damaged 
habitat currently occupied by horses for higher-quality habitat 
in nearby areas. It is our understanding the Service and the 
Corolla Wild Horse Fund have agreed in principle to this 
exchange, pending approval by the local board of supervisors. 
Should such an exchange occur, we believe it would nullify any 
argument in favor of this legislation.
                                   Rauul M. Grijalva.
                                   Niki Tsongas.

                                  [all]