BERLIN — The National Park Service has completed its November population census of the wild horses on Assateague Island, recording the total population of the Maryland herd at 78 horses, including 21 stallions and 57 mares.
Two aged mares, N6BKO “Samantha” and M17JP “Sierra” are missing and presumed dead, according to the park service. The fourth foal of the year, filly N2BHS-JQ, was born in mid-November to N2BHS-J “Shasta.”
The National Park Service completes a full census of the horse population in Maryland six times per year, in February, March, May, July, September and November. Managed as a wildlife population, the Assateague horses are free to roam over approximately 27 miles of the barrier island and can be difficult to find at times. During each census, horses are identified by their distinguishing characteristics, mapped and counted. Individual horses that are not observed during multiple census periods are presumed dead. The purpose of the census is to monitor the overall population dynamics of the horse herd in support of the long-term fertility control program that was initiated in 1994.