‘Aggressive’ horse left Assateague Island and sent to Texas Wildlife Sanctuary

The National Park Service said the horse known as Chip was very conditioned for food and would chase visitors to the park.

BERLIN, Maryland— Editor’s Note: The video above was originally released in July 2019.

A Assateague Island The horse was removed from the island after the animal became aggressive and attacked park visitors for food.

The National Park Service (NPS) said the horse, named Delegate’s Pride, aka “Chip”, was removed from Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland on Monday, May 2.

Liz Davis of NPS said the harem stallion has become increasingly aggressive towards visitors and park staff when he chases human food or when park staff try to redirect him or his group. away from crowded visitor areas like campgrounds and parking lots.

Since 2017, Chip has been involved in more than 50% of all incidents that resulted in visitor injuries, according to Davis and the NPS. Davis said the stallion has become “extremely resistant” to the non-contact methods used by park staff to get horses out of potentially dangerous situations.

For these reasons, Davis said Delegate’s Pride would permanently move to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, a renowned wildlife sanctuary.

The National Park Service said some horses and herds in the Maryland herd continue to associate humans with food and rewards. Fearless horses can easily become conditioned for food when they receive food from visitors. It can be both intentional and unintentional, due to improper food storage, the park service said.

Reversing behavior once a wild animal has learned to associate people with food is extremely difficult, Davis said.

“Withdrawal often becomes the only option for managing a highly food conditioned animal, especially one that causes the majority of negative and dangerous interactions with the public. We do not make these decisions lightly, but it is sometimes necessary to the safety of visitors and staff,” the National Park Service said in a statement.

After Chips’ withdrawal, Davis said updated food storage regulations would soon be in place.

Campers may only store food in a vehicle or in a strap-on cooler placed inside the NPS-provided food storage box under all picnic tables. Assateague Island National Seashore replaced all picnic tables in the fall of 2019 with new, purpose-built tables with horse-proof food storage compartments to hold standard-size strap-on coolers and storage containers. rigid walls.

“All visitors should take this food storage issue seriously and help us reduce the frequency of inappropriate interactions with wild horses,” Seashore Superintendent Hugh Hawthorne said in a statement. “The free-roaming nature of Assateague horses is what makes them so unique and special, but there are also issues like this that need to be addressed.”

Assateague Island National Seashore urges all visitors to take a proactive role in protecting wild horses by complying with all rules and regulations. For more information, Click here.

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