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'Cow castaways' found safe after being swept out to sea by Dorian

Thursday, November 14th 2019, 6:30 pm - "If these cows could talk..."

Hurricane Dorian caused widespread catastrophic damage as it raked across the Bahamas in late August and early September, taking at least 61 lives and causing an estimated $7 billion in damages. While it was less devastating to the coast of the southeastern United States, the storm still lashed parts of Florida and the Carolinas with strong winds and heavy rain, along with a storm surge as high as 7 feet (2.1 metres).

It was that surge along the North Carolina coast that sent three cows on what must have been a wild adventure.

cedar island cows rhonda hunter photography Wild cows on Cedar Island. Image courtesy Rhonda Hunter Photography

North Carolina's Outer Banks are home to a variety of wild herds, including these "Sea Cows," who -- until Dorian -- lived on Cedar Island, part of a federally-recognized wildlife refuge.

Dorian's intense storm surge was believed to have wiped out the herd of 20, along with at least 28 wild horses, sweeping the unfortunate animals out to sea.

That's why it was a surprise when one of the cows was spotted about 4 miles (roughly 6.5 km) south of its previous home, across the Core Sound on the Cape Lookout National Seashore about a month after the storm.

cedar island cow 3 The first lone cow castaway spotted on North Core. Image courtesy Carolina Wild Ones/Portsmouth Island Fishing

In the past few weeks, that lone bovine's been joined by two other members of its herd. The three castaway cows have been munching grass on federal land on North Core Island ever since.

Officials believe the cows made at least part of the crossing under their power, by swimming a two-mile gap across the Sound.


Cape Lookout National Seashore park spokesman B.G. Horvat told The New York Times the animals had a "tremendous" survival story. "If the cows could talk," Horvat said, "imagine the story they can tell you of enduring that rush of water."

cedar island cow 2 Image courtesy Carolina Wild Ones.

According to local media, the animals will be spared having to swim home. While the animals have no specific owner, some Cedar Island residents do serve as caretakers for the wild herds, and plans are in the works to transport the castaways home by boat.

Thumbnail image courtesy Rhonda Hunter Photography.

Sources: The New York Times | Rhonda Hunter Photography | Carolina Wild Ones | The Charlotte Observer |

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