Raymond the mule and a group of wild mustangs displaced by hurricane flooding have been crossing dilapidated fencing and entering the paved road and neighborhoods of Corolla, leading to a “heartbreaking” decision for those tasked with caring for the herd.
On Sunday, the Corolla Wild Horse Fund was forced to remove Raymond the mule — the product of an escaped farm donkey and a wild mare — from the beach.
Raymond is at least 20 years old, and though he can’t reproduce, he’s legendary for claiming harems and being all around … stubborn as a mule. He has had issues with his feet in the recent past, with caretakers removing him for treatment at one point.
“If he’s on the soft sand, behaving normally, he can manage without lameness or pain,” CWHF herd manager Meg Puckett said in a Facebook post. “However, after running up and down the asphalt every night for 10 days, Raymond began to show signs that he was experiencing a laminitic episode.”
Due to the fencing problem, other wild horses are also in danger of removal from the beach.
“The fence that keeps the horses from entering onto the paved road and the more populated areas of Corolla is in serious disrepair and has been for several years,” Puckett wrote.
The CWHF has worked to patch holes and strengthen the existing fence, but there is a 24-foot section in the ocean that is wide open during the low tide, and easily breached during most high tides.
“Last spring we attempted a temporary fix to that section, but it only lasted about 36 hours due to the harsh conditions. A marine contractor is required for that kind of work,” Puckett wrote.
The fund has been working with Currituck County for several years to try and get the fence replaced and had been told the work would be done last March.
“Apparently the county is having trouble finding a contractor to perform the work. We do not have any idea when the repair/replacement might be completed,” Puckett wrote.
In the meantime, Raymond and a group of horses have been going through the fence gap every night and into the neighborhoods of Corolla.
“This is incredibly dangerous for them, and for people,” Puckett said.
Herd caretakers have tried sitting on the beach until the late hours of the night to adding ropes and flags to the existing fence in an attempt to scare the horses away.
“Unfortunately, they continue to get through. We have an incredible network of volunteers who have been assisting our staff and the sheriff’s department in getting the horses back to the safety of the 4×4 each morning and we will continue to do this until the fence is repaired,” Puckett wrote. “It would be a devastating loss to the herd to have to remove these horses for no fault of their own.”
On Saturday night, Puckett noticed Raymond seemed to be in pain, and his condition worsened Sunday.
That morning, he would not budge from where he was in the neighborhood even after the other horses had been moved back to the 4×4.
“Raymond would not have survived many more nights of traveling miles up and down the paved road,” Puckett wrote. “We captured him Sunday morning and took him to the rehab farm. It was absolutely heartbreaking to remove him under these circumstances, but in order to save his life it’s the call that had to be made.”
On Monday, the CWHF spent $5,000 on fencing for a Raymond-proof pasture at the rescue farm in Grandy. Today they plan to get to work building him a new home, so they can turn him out by the weekend. He also has an upcoming vet appointment to trim his feet, check his teeth and give him vaccinations.
Donations have poured in to help keep Raymond safe and healthy, with 8,000 raised by late Tuesday morning.
“Raymond will probably never be domesticated, but he will be well taken care of for the rest of his life, on his terms and in a place where he is safe,” Puckett wrote.
Click here to donate to the CWHF. If you’d like to donate through the mail, the address is PO Box 361, Corolla NC 27927.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.