Wildlife experts made a tough decision to separate a year-old colt from his mother on North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
The Corolla Wild Horse Fund said in a Facebook post it made the desperate move in an attempt to save a mare sporting a potentially fatal wound.
It’s not known what caused the injury on 6-year-old Lizzie’s knee, the fund wrote, but it has become infected.
She is now under watch at a rescue farm, while her son, Alex, is fending for himself, herd manager Meg Puckett told McClatchy News.
However, the yearling is not alone.
“We moved him to an area that is not highly populated and doesn’t have public roads and unloaded him near a group of horses that included a couple older mares and a very laid back stallion,” Puckett said.
“She (Lizzie) did an amazing job raising a big, strong, healthy colt and now it was her turn to be taken care of. Alex was understandably upset but seems to be adjusting just fine.”
Lizzie is suffering from a fungal infection on one knee, which Puckett suspects was caused by decaying plant matter found in the water. Another Outer Banks horse had the same infection last summer, she said, and was saved only after having surgery.
The infection on Lizzie’s leg was discovered last summer, and it was decided to let her wean Alex before taking action. However, Puckett said, the pair disappeared “deep into the marsh” over the winter, delaying a planned rescue by months.
“We never could find them,” she wrote on Facebook. “On Friday we got a call from one of the residents who had been helping us, letting us know Lizzie and Alex had shown up in her yard. So Saturday morning we jumped into action and went to rescue Lizzie.”
The mare is now on antibiotics, has pre-operation X-rays scheduled, and is getting her wound cleaned on a regular basis. Her swelling has already begun to ease, the fund reports.
“She is not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination. We will know more about what we’re facing in the next couple days,” Puckett wrote.
“As with every rescue, we are going to do everything in our power to save her.”
In an update posted Tuesday, Puckett said Alex had been spotted that morning and was “doing just fine.” A photo shared on Facebook showed he had also made a friend of one of the island’s shore birds.
“He’s alone, but there are many other horses close by,” the fund reported. “He’s eating and drinking, and not acting stressed out at all. One of the positive outcomes of this whole ordeal is that Alex is now in a different part of the wild horse habitat from where he was born. His bloodlines will offer a bit of genetic diversity to the horses in his new location.”