February 28, 2019, Berlin, MD (USA): The National Park Service (NPS) says it has completed its February 2019 population census of wild horses on Assateague Island, which noted that three aged mares are missing and presumed dead.

The total population of the Maryland herd is currently at 76 horses, including 21 stallions and 55 mares. The three aged mares missing and presumed dead were identified as N6BK “Bessy Twister”, N6H and X24M “Patty.”

A full census of the Maryland horse population is completed six times per year during February, March, May, July, September and November. During each census, horses are identified by their distinguishing characteristics, mapped and counted. Individual horses that are not seen during multiple census periods are presumed dead, NPS said.

The goal is to track the overall population dynamics of the herd in support of the long term fertility control program that was initiated in 1994.

The NPS also noted that back in November 2018, it collected fecal samples to test for pregnancy hormones in selected mares. There were four positives among the pregnancy test samples collected in November 2018 including: N2BHS-A “Gokey GoGo Bones”, N2BHS-AL “Ms. Macky”, N2BHS-I “Annie Laurie”, and N2BHS-M “Susi Sole” (foaled in January).

Feature Photo Courtesy The National Park Service. L2R: N9BFT-KP (Alexandria’s Angel), N6BMT-FQ (Theodore), and N6BMT-F (Jojo) in February, 2019.