Assateaque Island & Chincoteaque ponies make it to higher ground as the flood waters began.
Although popularly known as Chincoteague ponies, the feral ponies actually live on Assateague Island. Although the entire Island is owned by the federal government, Assateague is split by a fence at the Maryland/Virginia state line, with a herd of around 150 ponies living on each side of the fence. The herds live on land managed by two different federal agencies with very different management strategies. Ponies from the Maryland herd, referred to in literature of the National Park Service as Assateague horses, live within Assateague Island National Seashore. http://www.assateagueisland.com/
They are generally treated as wild animals, given no more or less assistance than other species on the island, other than to be treated with contraceptives to prevent overpopulation. Conversely, the Virginia herd, referred to as Chincoteague ponies, lives within the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge but is owned by the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company. The Virginia ponies are treated to twice yearly veterinary inspections, which prepare them for life among the general equine population if they are sold at auction. While only around 300 ponies live on Assateague Island, around 1,000 more live off-island, having been purchased or bred by private breeders.
The famous ponies of Chincoteague had been relocated to higher ground once the flooding began to wash over the island. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company opened the gates to fencing of their grazing areas to allow them seek the highest ground on Assateague, which park officials said they will do instinctively. Thank our fire department for looking out for our famous ponies and their safety!
There is high ground on Assateague Island that will not be covered by flood waters. The ponies will ride out the storm on that high ground. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assateague_Pony
After the storm, fire company personnel head out to Assateague Island to verify that all the ponies are ok. You can follow the story on Facebook, on the Chincoteague.com page. http://wtvr.com/2012/10/30/chincoteague-ponies-push-to-higher-ground-as-sandy-floods-island/
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