Assateague Island Welcomes Foal

Assateague Island Welcomes Foal
The new foal is pictured last Friday with mare Ms. Macky. Photo by Allen Sklar

ASSATEAGUE — Just days after the latest census of the famed wild horses on Assateague reported the population at 82, a new foal was born early last Friday adding to that number with the ink barely dry on the report.

The new foal, for the time being known as N2BHS-ALQ, was born to mare Ms. Macky, who was determined to be pregnant during the annual testing last fall. Ms. Macky and her sorrel foal are part of a band that lives year-round in the busy developed areas and campgrounds. With the birth of the new foal, the population now stands at 83, or well within the target range of 80 to 100.

The NSBHS-ALQ moniker for the new foal is temporary and it will be given a proper name following a naming contest later this year. In the 1970, 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 on the island they frequent.

Despite the temptation to visit and take pictures of the new foal, National Park Service officials are reminding residents and visitors everything is new to foal and are reminded to keep a safe distance from Ms. Mackey and her offspring. As a rule of thumb, a safe distance is defined as around 40 feet, or roughly the length of a school bus.

That distance is recommended for all the wild horses on Assateague. However, because the foal is so young and Ms. Macky and her band frequent the highly developed areas of the barrier island, the school bus rule is particularly encouraged. The new foal will learn to interact with the environment on the barrier island from Ms. Macky and the other members of the band. During that time, a mare will be very protective of her foal and it is vitally important for their well-being that residents and visitors give them plenty of space.

It is uncertain if any other foals will be born to the Assateague herd this year. During pregnancy tests in November, Ms. Macky was the only mare who tested positive. However, the tests are not foolproof and there have been surprises in recent years. According to the National Park Service, 70 percent of the new foals are born in April, May and June, but it is not uncommon for a new foal to be born during any month of the year.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.