Monday, December 04, 2006

Just Say Neigh

Two horse-related stories in the news recently...First we have the Richmond Times-Dispatch reporting on the wild horses (this site calls them ponies) on Assateague Island. There are so many horses there now that their love for native salt marsh cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) is causing the beach dunes to erode. While the horses are already subject to population controls, with the females given contraceptives, they are still allowed to bear one foal each...which is apparently too much to keep the population stable. The National Park Service is considering moving all the horses off the island permanently. You can read more about the proposed plan here.

Story #2 comes from North Carolina: The Asheville Citizen-Times recently published this piece about wild horses on Carrot Island (unfortunately "Carrot" Island is not the idyllic place you'd think it would be for a horse :-)). The island is part of a state wildlife reserve, and while this would typically mean any feral animals are subject to removal, an outcry by residents of the nearby town of Beaufort back in the 1980s kept that from happening. Eventually, the horses were overrunning the island, prompting the removal of about half of them a few years later. Now they're kept in check with birth control, but park managers are also studying the situation to determine the best target population size.

Thanks to budak for sending in a link to the Carrot Island story.

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