Visitors Discouraged from Turning Water on for Assateague Ponies - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Visitors Discouraged from Turning Water on for Assateague Ponies

Posted: 07/18/2017 15:29:00 -04:00 Updated:

ASSATEAGUE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE, Md. - Offering a cool drink of water to an animal on a hot day probably sounds humane. But for the horses on Assateague Island, that act of kindness could turn these treasured icons into public nuisances.

"They're going to protect it from other horses and they're going to protect it from other humans, too," said Assateague Island National Seashore park ranger Liz Davis. "They don't want anyone else butting in line."

Rangers say beachgoers often leave the park spigots turned on so the horses can get a quick sip.  The problem is, the animals start to see the water source as something to protect and can become territorial around the spigots.

"This becomes not only an issue for the horses but it becomes a safety issue for people," said Kelly Taylor, another park ranger. "It's just not safe to have that many horses congregated in one area and to have that many people in that area as well."

 

Taylor said if the horses think their water source is threatened, they might kick or bite.

Rangers encourage people to let the animals rely on their natural survival instincts. At least 40 natural ponds on the island hold fresh water year-round and are available even during years of drought.

If visitors see horses congregating around the water faucets, rangers encourage people to make a little noise to get them to move. Otherwise, contact rangers and let them do the job.

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