Island’s ‘Fed Horse’ Campaign Scores $10K Grant

BERLIN – A $10,000 grant is expected to further Assateague Island National Seashore’s efforts to keep wild horses away from human food.

Last week, the Assateague Island Alliance, the friends group that supports the national park, announced its “A Fed Horse is a Dead Horse” campaign received a $10,000 grant from Eastern National.

Ashlie Kozlowski, outreach coordinator for the Assateague Island Alliance, said the nonprofit is currently raising money to purchase 167 wildlife-proof picnic tables, install fencing and signs and distribute cooler straps and educational material. She said the $10,000 grant will be used to purchase interpretive postcards and cooler straps, which will prevent horses from accessing food.

“We really want to change the mindset of our visitors … and preserve the wild nature of the horses,” she said. “All of these strategies will be used together to help keep food from the mouths of the horses.”

Kozlowski added that the campaign is meant to protect both wild horses and visitors from injury.

“The intension is to keep our visitors safe as well,” she said.

The Assateague Island Alliance launched its “A Fed Horse is a Dead Horse” campaign in October, shortly after a wild horse known as Chama Wingapo died after eating a large amount of dog food. The rich food caused an impaction that resulted in the rupture of the mare’s intestine.

Kozlowski said the campaign is meant to remind visitors to keep food away from horses and properly stored in a secure location. To that end, the group is raising money to utilize picnic tables, cooler straps and fencing that will keep food away from horses and to establish educational material and signage that will change visitors’ behaviors.

“Instead of giving visitors the do not’s, we are giving them the do’s,” she said. “Do put your food in the wildlife-proof picnic tables, do secure your coolers with cooler straps.”

Liz Davis, the park’s chief of interpretation and education, applauded the initiative.

“Assateague’s wild horses are special because they are wild,” she said. “By providing simple solutions, a couple of simple tools, our visitor’s and wild horses will have a much safer experience sharing the same space on Assateague. A strap instantly makes a cooler inaccessible. Tables with built in food storage compartments help every camper and picnicker keep their food out of reach.”

While the group has raised nearly $8,000 through private donations and its “Name that Foal” contest, Kozlowski said the Assateague Island Alliance is hoping to raise $171,000 to fund the project. She noted the $10,000 could be used to secure matching grants from other agencies.

“We can use all the help we can get,” she said.

Kozlowski said she expects installation to begin this summer.

“We’re hoping all of our fundraising is complete and grants will be awarded by the summer so we can begin work in July,” she said.

For more information, or to support the project, visit

“Assateague and the wild horses are more popular than ever,” Davis said. “The ‘Fed Horse is a Dead Horse’ initiative will help us provide the tangible opportunity to change behavior by keeping human and pet food inaccessible to the wild horses and other wildlife.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.