Chincoteague Ponies Survived Hurricane Sandy

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Photo by deanwissing, Creative Commons.

From Georgia to Maryland, wild horses live on low lying sandy islands, and manage to eek out a living on a diet of marsh grass and shrubs. Most well known of these horses are the Chincoteague Ponies, made famous by Marguerite Henry in the children’s book Misty of Chincoteague. These small horses live most of the year on nearby Assateague Island, where they are well managed by the local volunteer fire fighters. Thankfully the ponies were able to find high ground and rode out the storm safely.

ASSATEAGUE–The island’s wild pony herd successfully weathered Hurricane Sandy’s tidal surges and strong winds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent out a mass e-mail Tuesday to the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company notifying members of the herd’s safety.
“Everybody looks healthy and satisfied,” said Denise Bowden, spokesperson for the fire company, which owns and maintains the 135 ponies.
“They did a quick head count and nobody’s missing, everybody’s there,” she said.
On Sunday, fire company members opened the gates that contain the southern herd, allowing the ponies to seek higher ground at the White Hills area.

On the Maryland [this is correction, thanks to a reader who caught the error!] side of the island, other than birth control and in occasional extreme circumstances the horses are treated as wild animals and are left to survive on their own. Farther to the south, along the outer banks of North Carolina to Georgia other bands of wild horses are collectively referred to as “Bankers” or “Banker Ponies”, the term derived from the fact that they live on the outer banks – and luckily,  Hurricane Sandy landed its force farther up the coast, sparing the 500 or so wild and unique horses that call the region home.

These horses eat marsh grass and shrubs. (Photo by Ctwirler12, Creative Commons)

Cumberland Island, Georgia, horses (National Park Service Photo)

Corolla North Carolina 'Bankers" show evidence of Spanish descent.

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