Showing posts with label assateague ponies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label assateague ponies. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Mid-Winter Surprise On Assateague!

(The Dispatch)

ASSATEAGUE — In a mid-winter surprise, a new foal was born to the herd of wild horses on Assateague Island last week.

(Full article)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Crews Working To Reopen Assateague

Parking Lot/February 2010

ASSATEAGUE -- Officials at Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge are scrambling to reopen Assateague beach by the holiday weekend after Hurricane Irene destroyed the parking lots, depositing up to 18 inches of sand in some places.

The storm also created a breach at least 100 yards wide just north of the parking area joining Swan's Cove with the Atlantic Ocean.

"None of the damage was minor," said Refuge Manager Lou Hinds, adding "the best-case scenario" is to have 200-300 parking spaces available this weekend.

There are usually 961 parking spaces at the beach.

Hinds said the U.S. Park Service found more damage than was first thought. The latest plan officials are considering is to rebuild whatever spaces can be put in place by the weekend, then stop until spring because the demand for parking goes down after Labor Day and there is "a high probability it would only get washed away" during winter storms, he said.

The beach remained closed to visitors during the last full week of the summer season as workers using heavy equipment attempted to rebuild as many of the parking spaces as possible before Labor Day weekend, when thousands of tourists traditionally flock to the refuge and seashore.

The refuge reopened Tuesday under a temporary arrangement that includes opening a lifeguard-protected beach two miles north of the current recreational area, which visitors can access by bicycle or on foot.

In recent years the beach parking lots at times were completely full during holiday weekends, with one vehicle being allowed onto the refuge as another left.

"We knew this day would come... It just happened the storm hit the weekend before Labor Day weekend," said Hinds, who in the past has warned local and federal officials of the need for a backup plan in case a storm wiped out beach parking during the tourist season.

The remnants of Hurricane Ida last year also destroyed the parking lots, but workers had time to rebuild them before the next summer, at a cost of $450,000.

Hinds accompanied Chincoteague Mayor Jack Tarr, Accomack County Supervisor Wanda Thornton and other Chincoteague officials on a tour to inspect the damage, as well as to see the northern beach, which he proposed to open as a temporary solution to provide beach access to visitors this week.

That area, including plans for up to 8.5 acres of parking, is also proposed as the permanent site for the recreational beach in the future in two of four alternatives listed in the refuge's Comprehensive Conservation Plan. The plan was unveiled at recent open houses at Assateague Beach and the Chincoteague Center and was the subject of two public input meetings in Melfa and Pocomoke City.

Thornton kept an upbeat attitude after viewing the damage, saying, "It isn't as bad as I anticipated -- I've seen it a whole lot worse."

She predicted the breach at Swan's Cove will fill in over time.

Thornton also said Labor Day is traditionally not as busy for the seashore as other holidays like July Fourth.

Donna Mason, owner of Waterside Inn, said while she had some cancellations from guests affected in their home areas by Irene, bookings were holding steady for the weekend.

"We're hoping for a good weekend," she said. "Just tell them Chincoteague is open for business."

The northern beach, accessible from the Swan's Cove Trail off the Wildlife Loop, will have lifeguards on duty from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., but it will have very limited facilities.

Refuge officials encourage visitors to bicycle to the refuge due to the lack of available parking.

Vehicles may enter the refuge, but can go only as far as the Herbert H. Bateman Educational and Administrative Center. Limited parking is available there, as well as at the lighthouse, which will be open normal hours, and at the wildlife loop.

In addition to destroying the parking lots, Irene left groups of Chincoteague ponies freely roaming the beach road and the Bateman Center parking lot after gates were opened ahead of the storm's arrival to allow the ponies to seek higher ground. The ponies are usually kept away from areas frequented by people.

Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company's Saltwater Cowboys at some point will round up the ponies, for the second time this summer, and return them to their customary grazing grounds. But refuge officials did not put a timetable on that effort, saying they are sensitive to the extra work volunteer fire and rescue personnel put in before, during and after the storm.

In the meantime, drivers should proceed cautiously to avoid harming ponies they encounter in the road or parking lots. Visitors should not approach the wild ponies.

Entrance fees to the refuge were waived this week during the recovery effort. The refuge is open during reduced daylight hours, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., with tentative plans to resume normal hours Friday.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

PLEASE Don't Feed The Wild Animals

If you've lived on the Eastern Shore long enough and you love the beach you have seen the wild ponies that live on the beaches of Assateague on both Maryland and Virginia.  And if you've traveled there enough times you have no doubt witnessed the stubborness of these beautiful wild creatures.  It is not uncommon for them to be lured to a cooler on the beach, turn it over and search for food- your food. 

But then we've also seen them at the hands those that do not know they shouldn't  have popcorn, bread, candy, chips nor anything that is consumed by humans.  No, not even fruits!

So, my guess of all these years of being at  the hands of improper feeders has gotten this poor guy with the addiction that he is being treated for.

Here is the link that will take you to see Fabio and get a kind look at the wonderful "rehab" he's in.

Horse is exiled from Assateague

Written by  Charlene Sharpe
BERLIN -- After a horse was removed from Assateague Island because he fixated on taking food from campsites and visitors, he is showing potential at a horse rescue center in Texas.

Eighteen-year-old former stallion Fabio, removed from Assateague Island National Seashore's herd of 114 horses in late June, is undergoing training at the Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center in Texas. With a reputation for aggressive behavior like biting and charging preceding him, trainers at the adoption center were concerned about Fabio -- until they began working with him.

"We were so pleasantly surprised, and pleased that very quickly he showed himself to be gentle," said Anne Rathbun-Favre, director of the center.

Staff members at the center have been working with Fabio since his arrival in mid-July. Officials at Assateague Island National Seashore determined in June that the stallion was getting too aggressive to remain in the park.

"He was getting to the point where there was the risk of someone being seriously injured," said Allison Turner, a biological technician at Assateague.

She said nearly two decades of being fed junk food by visitors and plundering campsites for food had made the already dominant horse too pushy. Charging at park visitors with his teeth bared and even biting some led to the decision to remove him.

In the past, Assateague equines with aggressive behavior like Fabio have been admitted into the Chincoteague herd, in a wildlife refuge where no camping is permitted and there is no access to roads for begging tourists. Chincoteague's herd is limited by a grazing permit, however, and could not accommodate Fabio, Turner said.

Instead, park staff coaxed the stallion into a corral with his favorite food, hamburger buns, and castrated him, something that can help quiet down an unruly horse. Again using hamburger buns as a lure, Fabio was loaded onto a trailer and sent to the new Doris Day Horse Rescue and Adoption Center. Turner said the center was equipped to deal with an essentially wild 18-year-old horse.

FABIO At his new facility.

She said the Doris Day facility, which just opened in May, is part of the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch, a sanctuary where the horse could spend the rest of his days if deemed unsuitable for adoption.

While Fabio may end up joining the sanctuary's herd of 600 horses and burros, staff say he is showing potential for adoption.

"When he came we weren't quite sure," said Ben Callison, director of Black Beauty Ranch, "but we let the horse define that for us."

Although his small stature does not lend him to under-saddle use, Favre said Fabio was showing promise as a companion animal, used to keep other horses company.

Favre said since Fabio's arrival staff had had few difficulties with the horse. His initial refusal to eat hay or grain --because aside from his penchant for camping fare, he lived solely on grass at Assateague -- ended when staff used applesauce and molasses to make the fare more enticing. Once Fabio began eating regularly, trainers have stayed busy teaching him to wear a halter and learn to be handled. Although he's still feisty to lead around, Fabio is still in the beginning of the training process and Favre is optimistic that he can one day be adopted.

"The advantage is that even if he's turned out into the sanctuary, these skills will allow us to care for him," Callison added.
Although Fabio is the most recent horse to leave Assateague Island because of bad behavior, there have been a number of others.

Turner said that 39 horses have been removed from the park in its history, but it hadn't happened since 1995 until now. Although the one before Fabio went through a training process and was adopted by a family in Florida, the others were all absorbed into the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company's herd.

Turner hopes new regulations at the park -- which prohibit visitors from getting within 10 feet of a wild horse or doing anything to attract them -- will prevent other horses from becoming as aggressive as Fabio.

Source;|newswell|text|Worcester County Times|s

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rigell Working To Solve Parking Problem At Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge

There's a parking problem at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Concerns of Beach erosion and interference with birds have prompted the National wildlife Refuge System to consider moving parking for the beach to a new location.

Congressman Scott Rigell has been working with the National Wildlife Refuge System to find the best solution on the issue. In a letter to Gregory Siekaniec, Rigell states that beach access is the single greatest driver of tourism in Chincoteague and has a direct impact on every aspect of the community's economy and that many of his constituents have expressed their concern about potential changes to the current parking lot that has capacity for 1,000 cars and is at a reasonable walking distance to the beach.

Rigell met with Siekaniec and said that left the that meeting with several "takeaways" including:

That Siekaniec recognizes recreational beach access within the CNWR is paramount to Chincoteagues economy and that any reduction in direct beach access will be detrimental to Chincoteague and Accomack County.

February 2010
While potential beach erosion many necessitate moving the recreational beach to a point further north, no decision will be made until after the list of alternatives is published for public comment.

If it is necessary to move the beach, the current parking lot will not be eliminated until new parking is established within a reasonable walking distance of the beach, with no shuttle service required.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Assateague Pony Shot During Deer Hunt

BERLIN — Assateague park officials said a wild horse was apparently shot during a two-day deer hunt. The horse was a 28-year-old bay mare, Assateague Island National Seashore officials said, and park rangers are looking into who may have shot the horse.

“Regardless of whether the shooting was accidental or not, the failure to report the incident violates National Park Service regulations and we intend to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law,” Chief Ranger Ted Morlock said in a news release. The statement said a hunter found the dead animal on Jan. 15 and reported it to park rangers the next day.

Park officials allow several gun-hunting seasons a year to control the barrier island’s deer population, but do not permit the hunting of its wild horses, instead using contraceptives to keep their population on the Maryland side to about 125 animals.

The National Park Service is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the responsible individual. Persons with information about the incident should contact Chief Ranger Morlock at 410-629-6055, or by email at All information provided may remain confidential.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Chincoteague Ponies Are Moved Due To High Water

Visitors to Assateague Island will find fewer Chincoteague wild ponies in the meadow to the right of Beach Road. Some of the southern herd, usually totaling about 50ponies, has been moved to the larger northern range until spring.

Denise Bowden, who took over public relations duties this past October, said they were moved due to the accumulation of water on the range where the ponies normally . “To get them through the winter, we moved them up on the northern end. In the spring, they will be moved back,” said Bowden.

The decision to move them came out of the flooding of the grazing area, for them to have grass to graze on and higher ground to get to,” Bowden explained. “The Pony Committee chairman (Harry Thornton), along with his group, makes the decisions.”

“This is the first time that I can remember them being moved due to weather,” Bowden said. “It wasn’t so much the snow. It was because of the pounding nor’easters that flooded the area.”

The Chincoteague ponies live in two herds on the Virginia end of Assateague Island. The estimated 50 ponies in the southern herd can often be seen by visitors driving to the beach or by hikers who go to the Woodland Trail overlook. The northern herd numbers about 100 ponies, but they are not seen by the general public until they are brought into the Beach Road corral for the July auction.

Referring to the impact winter weather can have on the ponies, Bowden said, “This past storm they made out great. They’re smart animals. They know where to get food and to seek higher ground if it’s too wet. In this past storm, we had people go over that Monday. They took 35 bales of hay. The ponies had water in their troughs that they were drinking.”

As to their behavior in rough weather situations and their reaction to snow, Bowden said, “I think they’re just like any other animal. They’re used to it. They’re used to the cold weather. I would think that some of the younger ponies probably like to frolic in the snow and play. I don’t see where it affects them much.”

Bowden said she believes their least favorite weather is rain. “If it’s a hard rain, they’ll relocate themselves. They will seek higher ground. It’s just a natural instinct to them. They’re not dumb animals whatsoever. If it gets to be where they are actually flooded out, that’s when we decide to move them up to the northern end where there is more of a highland area.”

Although it has not been an issue so far this winter, the biggest concern for the ponies during the cold months is a hard freeze. “Definitely during a hard freeze when we have to break water,” said Bowden. “This happens when there are a cold couple of days with temperatures below 32 degrees.”

While the majority of the ponies remain on Assateague, a few can be seen at the Chincoteague carnival grounds. This year’s buyback ponies — those purchased at the auction that will be put back into the herd — are being kept at the carnival grounds until spring.

Bowden said the ponies do not require much care. “We throw out hay a couple of times a week. The Pony Committee checks on them every day. There is still grass for grazing at the carnival grounds and we don’t keep hay there all the time, because too much hay is not good for their diet.” The ponies have the luxury of automatic water lines on the carnival premises.

“Every day someone from that Pony Committee goes out to the beach to make sure everything is OK,” said Bowden. “Everyone pretty much knows what to do, but if something does arise that needs to be addressed, the chairman will select a couple of people and ask them to go out and correct it. And,they'll correct it.”
Windy Mason is a staff writer for which is an online publication that covers Chincoteague and Assateague islands.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Summer And the Beach

Last Sunday my husband and I took a ride to Assateague on the Virginia side. To most of you that have live in the surrounding areas all of your lives you know that the beach is very much a huge part of your summer life.

What I saw on the beach that day simply broke my heart. I have walked that beach so many times in my life I once felt I new every pebble by name. Many of you will agree. Please take a moment to see what it looked liked on February 21, 2010.

Unless you own a camel and that camel can walk a great distance don't plan on any parking. The parking lots are gone. The circle that once gave us the option for "north end" or "south end" is gone. The ocean has moved in and though the Yield sign still stands there is no reason to.

The ocean and the beach have always been an important part of my life. Teenage years were spent lying in the

sand with the radio on, baby oil and iodine, swapping stories with my best friends, and napping. Those were the days when

we all thought the sun was our best friend and a good beach day was from 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon.

No need to take a cooler with food. There was a resturant right there on the beach! Yep. The resturant even had a gift shop.

No need to worry about tourist too much. And can you acutally believe that once you parked

your car in the morning you could leave for lunch on Chicoteague and go back to beach and park in the

original parking spot! You sure could.

This electric wire cables were probably connected to the electric poles that once ran along the paved road and now sit almost at the waters edge. The gas line is in the water and I am sure upon hide tide the copper tubing cannot be seen.

That wire cable is just about where the info station and first aid station had been a few years ago. The boarded walkways our children once ran down and the benches, the iformation and first aid stations are now part of the ocean.

We all thought at the time Assateague would always be there. And it has been. I toted both of my children as toddlers to the beach. As they grew they knew on my days off from work we would be going to the beach. When they became older so did their friends and I ended taking all the kids to Assateague. Then in their teens the ideas of beach parties came along. And because they loved the beach as I do we had one beach party to start the summer and one to end it. Thank goodness by this time all of them could drive.

Oh, I have seen the changes. But the one thing that put an end to the enjoyment of the sand, sun and ocean was the sudden popularity of the beach. None of us could ever get used to the feeling of strangers being so close on the beach. When you're used to having all that sand for yourself for all those years and suddenly can't seem to stretch out and relax it's no fun. Tourism had hit the beach! By this time my kids were grown and could go alone and sit in line behind them and fight over a spot in the sand. I wasn't. But I have.

I've left lots of memories on that beach. I've cried alot of tears, had alot of kisses from old boyfriends and chatted many many hours with friends. I've made sand castles, dug holes, dug for sand crabs, picked up shells and jumped the breakers with my kids. I've explained sea nettles and porpoises and fish and crabs to the tourists. I've seen some of the most beautiful kites snap and fly into the ocean. And I wondered if
we were supposed to return the sand our kids took home in their bathing suits. I've seen beautiful sunsets and, yes, sunrises.

And through the years I learned that the ocean was NOT the best place to be during a thunderstorm. But I never once came home with a bad sunburn. And I learned at a young age what undertow is without almost drowing simply by watching others.

I have no idea what lies ahead for my dear friend Assateague. I can tell you that there were pieces of heavy equipment there and as you can see in the photos they have been working to restore some dunes. Other than that time will tell and I guess it just depends how many more nor'easters we have this season. After all we don't
own the ocean and we sure can't tame it.

But there is one very good thing to report about the day. The Chicoteague ponies were out strolling. Now that's a peaceful thought.

I leave you with this beautiful poem written by someone that I know well and respect a great deal.

The ocean

The ocean she’s slick as a books open page
In a blink of an eye she takes out her rage

Fisherman prosper from her giving ways
She pleasures her patrons on hot summer days

Pirates have sailed her with not a fear
Only to find they soon disappear

She’s as gentle as a kitten, light winds in the air
She’ll lash out with anger and give you a scare

The respect that she’s asking not meant to cower
The ocean she’s silent then rumbles with power

She will hold you, caress you, and fill you with joy
Or she can toss you, and throw you like playing with a toy

Men sailed her, and fished her, sought treasure for fare
She held them; she fed them, with not a care

Others they tempted to conquer her fate
She swallowed them up and left not a trace

They’ve tried to control her powers you see
She shows them whose boss when they go to sea

Treat her like a lady, respect what she hails
Or you may be at rest with the Andrea Gail

The Ocean

I'll be back to check on you, old friend.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Showing At the Marva

Showing Friday, September 4, 2009 7:00 P.M. Admission: $5.00


Sneak Preview of the next
Ken Burns feature movie.

KEN BURNS is a director and producer of documentary films. His documentaries have been nominated for two Academy Awards, 1982 and 1986.