Many years ago, wild horses were a common sight in North America. The elegant animals could be seen galloping across the West or grazing in Midwestern prairies. However, now, the places that wild horses used to call home have dwindled to a just a handful. Assateague Island is one such special place.
Assateague is a remote island between Virginia and Maryland and is home to over 300 wild horses. Experts believe they are descendants of domesticated horses brought to the island over 400 years ago. Today these beautiful horses are self-sufficient and live in harmony with other wildlife species on the island.
The island is home to long sandy beaches, native species of birds, and 300 protected wildhorses.
And after centuries of surviving on the remote islands’ tough environment, the horseshave become truly unique.
The horses live herds of two to 12 horses per group separated by a fence along the Virginia-Maryland state border.
Visitors to the island are warned against feeding the horses since processed human food can easily make the horses sick.
The horses survive by eating marsh and sand dune grasses, bayberry twigs, rosehips, and persimmons.
The National Park Service and Fish & Wildlife Service make sure the horses’ habitat is kept safe.
Every July, they round up 150 horses and guide them across the Assateague Channel onto Chincoteague Island. The horses are auctioned off and sold to protect Assateague Island from over-population. The horses that are sold are said to adjust easily to domestic life.
If you’re lucky enough to visit the island, respect the horses and their environment so that they survive for many generations to come!
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