The horses have been in the barrier islands since the 16th century. But the rapid development of the Corolla area has seen their home become crowded by beach houses and four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Now the size of the herd itself is in question.
The federal Fish and Wildlife Service wants the number of horses limited to 60. They say the animals, which don't have federal protection, compete with protected species of birds.
Karen McCalpin leads the Corolla Wild Horse Fund. She says shrinking the herd size that much would leave the animals vulnerable to genetic diseases and other dangers.