Assateague Island Adds Special Tables for Horse Safety
By Jaryd Leady
BERLIN, Md.- Assateague Island National Seashore rangers have seen enough of the horse-play. After too many cases of horses consuming human, and even pet food, the rangers knew it was time to make a change to protect the ponies' health.
"It's called a fed horse is a dead horse. One of the things that people don't realize is that wild horses are just that, they're wild," said Kelly Taylor, an Assateague park ranger.
She says it's easy for horses to get into food they shouldn't be eating, and that can be harmful to their health. That's why the workers are excited about the addition of some new picnic tables that have the safety of horses in mind.
"So by having these tables out, it allows people a place to store the food when they come to keep it out of the reach of the horses," said Taylor.
The solution is a simple one. You can open up the compartments under the table and place into it anything you don't want the horse to get inside. After you close the door, the horses won't have access to the objects inside. These tables can be found just off the beach in the parking areas, as well as the camping parts of the island. There were 22 tables built and put in place this year, but it definitely wasn't an easy process.
"It's been a couple year process in the design and testing to make sure that they would work," said Eric Sherry, another park ranger. "We did a project this year, and we partnered with our friend's group, Assateague Island Alliance to finalize the project and build 222 of them over the summer season."
The horses live on the island year-round, and as the winter months approach, the beach will empty out. The hope is that next beach season the horses will stay away from the table foods, and stick to their natural diet.