ASSATEAGUE — Assateague Island officials are again reminding visitors not to feed the barrier island’s famed horses and to carefully cover up all food after a mare died last week from ingesting a large amount of dog food.
Last Thursday, the seven-year-old mare Chama Wingapo was found dead in the campground at the Assateague Island National Seashore (AINS). There was no sign of visible external injuries, but further investigation revealed Chama Wingapo had ingested a large amount of dog food as early as last Wednesday. Incidentally, Chama Wingapo was one of five mares to birth a foal during the island’s baby boom last summer.
It was determined the large amount of dog food caused an impaction, or blockage, resulting in a rupture of the intestine. Chama Wingapo’s tragic passing resulted in AINS officials this week to reiterate the importance of carefully storing human and pet food from the island’s wild horses and other wildlife. The horses are familiar sites around the populated areas of the barrier island and interact with humans, often raiding picnic baskets and coolers sometimes with deadly results as evidenced by the mare sudden death last week.