Since the late s, scientists have used the herd to conduct studies on feral horse behaviorsocial structure, ecology, remote contraceptive delivery and pregnancy testing, and the effects of human intervention on other wild animal populations. Though descended from the same original stock, the Maryland feral ponies are called "Assateague horses" and are maintained by the National Park Service.
Initially, unclaimed animals were marked for ownership by groups of settlers. Each mare between two and four years old is given contraceptives, and treatment is then withdrawn until she produces a foal. Chincoteague ponies require up to twice as much water as most horses require due to the saltiness of their diet.
This diet is supplemented by other vegetation such as rose hipsbayberrygreenbriarAmerican beach grassseaweed and poison ivy. Since there has been a "Pony Patrol", where volunteers on bikes patrol the island, biv visitors about the ponies.
The two herds lie under the jurisdiction of different governmental agencies, and different management strategies have been applied to each herd. Once she has produced bit foals to be well represented genetically within the herd, she is placed on a yearly treatment plan until her death. In addition, continual monitoring and basic first aid for any minor injuries is performed by a committee from the fire department.
No horse has ever been injured during the dart -administered treatments, although there is a 0.
Many ponies are registered with both associations. Inseveral ponies were trapped in an enclosure by high water and died when they were carried out to sea during a storm.
To manage population s, long-term, non- hormonal contraceptives have been employed, proving 95 percent effective over a seven-year field trial. Pony Penning Day has been held annually ever since, with the exception of, and The fencing also prevents them from reaching the sea, where they often went to escape biting insects, including mosquitos. It is thought likely that the Maryland herd carries equine infectious anemia EIA ; they are effectively quarantined, however, by allowing no riding or camping with privately owned horses along the mainland shore during the insect season which stretches from mid-May to October.
Its presence on a relatively small and naturally confined area has made it ideal for scientific study. Some ponies are purchased ppersonals "buy back" conditions, where the bidder donates big island va adult personals money to the fire department but allows the pony to be released back onto Assateague Island.
There are almost 1, Chincoteague ponies owned by private individuals adutl Chincoteague Island, spread throughout the US and Canada. Sincegeneral herd health has improved, early mortality has decreased and older ponies are now found, with many over the age of 20 and some even over There is also some danger to the ponies from the visitors: ponies have become ill from being fed inappropriate human foods, and on average one Maryland pony a year is killed by islans car. The latter is open only to horses purchased from the annual auction, while the former maintains a breed registry and studbook that registers all ponies, including those from private breeders.
The annual Pony Pennings are used to maintain the herd size personala around animals. Ina study determined that mitochondrial DNA diversity in the herd was quite low, most likely due to their isolation, but that their nuclear genetic diversity remained at a level similar to that of breeds from the mainland.
While the sheep population diminished over time, the pony population grew. These measures included new safety information in brochures and recommended viewing distances between the visitors and the ponies. Main article: Pony Penning Inthe first written description of "pony penning" roundup appeared, though the practice of rounding up livestock on the island existed for many years before that. Two separate herds of ponies live perzonals Assateague Island, separated by a fence that runs along the Maryland-Virginia state border.
However, in the early s, much of Assateague Island was purchased by a wealthy farmer, forcing many settlers to move to Chincoteague Island and necessitating a change in the pony penning format. After a pair of fires ravaged Chincoteague Island that same year, the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company was established. Bythe event had become a festival day, and two days of horse and sheep roundups were held on Assateague and Chincoteague Islands.
During the swim, some lactating mares become affected with hypocalcemiawhich is treated by on-site veterinarians. Herd s grew from 28 to over between and and overgrazing negatively impacted their living environment.
Such intervention is needed because many of the ponies will be brought into the general horse population through the auction and purchase by private buyers. Byall parts of pony penning adu,t for the actual roundup had moved to Chincoteague Island, with the ponies being transported by truck for the first two years before the annual swim was begun.
There are few other wildlife populations of any species worldwide that have been studied in as much detail over as long a period as the Maryland herd of Chincoteague ponies.
The swim takes five-ten minutes, with both the rider bjg the observers on hand to assist horses, especially foals, who may have a hard time with the crossing. Due to the placement of fences by the FWS, a reduced amount of land is available for grazing by the ponies. Inafter an increase in biting incidents, the National Park Service implemented new measures for educating visitors about the ponies.