SALISBURY, Md. – A band of wild horses were penned in a corral on Assateague Island after visitors to the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge disregarded warnings not to approach the ponies, authorities say.
The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company moved the band over the weekend, according to a post on the Chincoteague Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page.
The fire company owns and cares for the Virginia pony herds on Assateague Island.
“We have tried numerous times to educate the public about the dangers of getting too close to the ponies. We have put out flyers, Facebooked it, the chamber has announced it numerous times, shop and hotel owners have expressed it – and still, people continue to do dangerous things when they encounter them,” said Denise Bowden, spokesperson for the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company.
The ponies will remain in the corral until the spring roundup April 12-13, the post said.
“The rules are: PLEASE stay at least 50 feet from the ponies. PLEASE do not feed the ponies. PLEASE do not approach the ponies. We ask that EVERYONE follow these rules,” it said.
“It’s only going to take one bite or kick to get hurt really bad and then it will be too late,” Bowden said, adding, “We know people love them, but please use your zoom lens and love them from a distance
The spring roundup is one of two other roundups the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company holds during the year besides the July Pony Penning. The other is in the fall.
The purpose of the spring and fall roundups is to perform a health check on the ponies, including inoculations and deworming, and to see if any new foals have been born, according to the Chamber of Commerce website.
Additionally, at the April roundup, buyback ponies from the previous summer’s auction are taken from the carnival grounds and released back onto Assateague. Buybacks are a few select ponies auctioned as foals during Pony Swim with the stipulation they would be donated to the fire company to replenish the herd, according to the Chamber of Commerce website.
The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company also made a similar warning on its Facebook page earlier in March about not approaching or feeding the ponies.
The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company also provides informational flyers to the Chamber of Commerce office and other locations in town warning people against approaching or feeding the ponies.
Follow Carol Vaughn on Twitter: @cvvaughnES