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Contact: Liz Davis, 410-629-6087Berlin, MD - The National Park Service has completed its November 2019 population census of the wild horses in Assateague Island National Seashore. There are 75 horses in the Maryland herd, including 22 stallions and 53 mares. One death was documented. A five month old filly (N2BHS-AR) was observed on October 29th with neurological symptoms. The horse died soon after park staff were notified. A necropsy was completed by the state animal health lab. Tests for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, Equine Herpesvirus and rabies all returned negative results. The cause of death was determined to be a natural occurrence, following intussusception of the small intestine. Intussusception is a condition in which one segment of intestine "telescopes" inside of another, causing an intestinal blockage.
The National Park Service completes 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.
Last updated: November 7, 2019