Did you know that the park rangers on the Maryland side of Assateague Island conduct population counts six times a year? The first one was just completed this month and was posted on the Assateauge Island National Seashore’s Facebook page on February 27. Read the results below:
We’ve completed the February 2019 population census of the wild horses on the MD end of the island! The total population of the MD herd is currently at 76 horses, including 21 stallions and 55 mares. Three aged mares, N6BK “Bessy Twister”, N6H and X24M “Patty” are missing and presumed dead.
We complete a full census of the horse population in Maryland six times per year, in February, March, May, July, September, and November. Managed as a wildlife population, the Assateague horses are free to roam over approximately 27 miles of the barrier island and can be difficult to find at times. During each census, horses are identified by their distinguishing characteristics, mapped and counted. Individual horses that are not observed during multiple census periods are presumed dead. The purpose of the census is to monitor the overall population dynamics of the horse herd in support of the long term fertility control program that was initiated in 1994.
As a side note, back in November 2018, we collected fecal samples to test for pregnancy hormones in selected mares. There were four positives among the pregnancy test samples collected in November 2018 including: N2BHS-A “Gokey GoGo Bones”, N2BHS-AL “Ms. Macky”, N2BHS-I “Annie Laurie”, and N2BHS-M “Susi Sole” (foaled in January). Please note that the testing cannot predict due date, only that the mares were at least 3 months pregnant at the time the samples were collected.