Naming Contest Planned For New Assateague Foal

Naming Contest Planned For New Assateague Foal

ASSATEAGUE — The only new foal born to the herd of wild horses on Assateague this year is in need of a name and local residents and visitors will have the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy with an on-line eBay auction scheduled for later this year.

The apparently curious filly known now only as N2BHS-M was foaled in the area of the Assateague Island State Park campground on Memorial Day. It is the only foal born on the Maryland side of the barrier island thus far this year. In the 1970s, the National Park Service began naming new foals in the Assateague herd with an alpha-numeric code to help track the lineage and ancestry of the wild horses and identify to which sub-herd they belong and the areas they frequent on the barrier island.

However, each year, the Assateague Island Alliance, an advocacy group that partners with the state and federal parks on the island for the safety of its most famed residents, holds various contests and auctions to provide residents and visitors with the opportunity to name the new foal or foals added to the herd each year. Through its Adopt a Horse program, the AIA has conducted numerous naming contests for new foals in recent years.

To that end, the AIA is scheduling a Name That Foal auction through eBay starting in early December. Open bidding will be held from Dec. 5-15. The highest bidder during the 10-day auction will earn the right to name N2BHS-M. The bidding starts at $300, although the naming price will likely soar beyond that. In a similar bid for the only foal born to the Maryland herd in 2013 came in at over $3,000.

N2BHS-M was birthed by experienced mother Carol’s Girl (N2BHS) on Memorial Day. Both mother and daughter are members of Yankee’s band, who are currently living in the developed zone of the park. N2BHS-M is often seen in and around the campground area in the state park and is known for its curiosity and friendliness toward visitors, although as always, park officials remind visitors to enjoy the wild horses from a safe distance.

Earlier this year, the naming rights to a pinto filly born just before Christmas last year went to a resort restaurant employee who named the foal in honor of Macky’s owner Pam Stansell, a longtime volunteer with the AIA. The employee named the foal “Ms. Macky” after drawing a random raffle ticket.

The birth of N2BHS-M in May brought the island’s native horse population to 102, which is close to the ideal range of 80-100. While three to five are birthed in a typical year, an in-kind number drop off due to old age, illness or other natural or man-made factors. However, the Memorial Day foal is the only one to date in 2014.

In the interest of managing the size of the herd, which, if left unchecked would overtake the barrier island and gobble up the very resources the wild ponies need to survive, the National Park Service several years ago began a contraceptive program for the mares in the herd. The mares are injected with a non-invasive contraceptive to prevent multiple births in an effort to maintain and ultimately shrink the size of the herd to its manageable threshold. In the interest of maintaining the gene pool of the famous wild ponies, believed to be descendants of domesticated horses placed on the island 300 years ago, each mare is allowed to birth one foal before being put on the contraceptive program.