|Summary of activities:
Tour the visitors center
Watch a short documentary film about the history of the wild horses
Search for and photograph the horses
Assateague Island National Seashore is a beautiful place. With it's pristine and nearly empty beaches to the vast wide open salt marshes on the bayside of the island, there is much to enjoy for the nature lover. But let's face it, the star of the show here are the wild horses that have full range of the entire island. For over 300 years they have been here and it wasn't until the 1960's there was an easy way on or off the island. It is a long and tall bridge that the horses don't seem interested in traversing. They do swim of course, but everything they need is here on the island. In the 1980's The National Park Service began a program of birth control for the horses by darting the females. Each mare is permitted to have a single foal in her third or fourth year, this not only controls the population of horses but selectively controls the gene pool of the new additions. This is the only interaction between the horses and the National Park Service, everything else is left up to Mother Nature.
There is a law and a hefty fine for anyone on the island that fails to maintain a 40 foot distance from any wild horse, but that seems to go largely unheeded by most everyone we saw. At least we didn't see anyone feeding them or get bitten or kicked by getting to close.
I imagine this is a comfortable place to visit in the spring and fall seasons, but being here in the summer like we are, the mosquitoes and biting black flies have to be dealt with or at least tolerated. With no electricity or air conditioning the temperatures, when in the shade, are not so bad as long as there is that ocean breeze blowing through the campground.
ASSATEAGUE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE
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