ASSATEAGUE ISLAND – An Assateague pony was struck and killed by a car last week.
The pony, a 25-year-old mare known as Scotty’s Girl, was standing in the road just east of the Verrazano Bridge around 9 p.m. when she was hit by a car that had just crossed the bridge.
“There was a band of horses grazing on the side [of the road] which is usually the case,” said Assateague Island National Seashore (AINS) Public Affairs Officer Regina Jones-Brake. “One car went by and probably scared the horses and made them alert. One horse went into the road and was hit by a car heading east.”
The mare was killed by the impact, Jones-Brake said.
The vehicle was damaged but drivable and the driver unhurt, she said. The driver was not considered to be at fault, according to Jones-Brake.
“It was dark at night and the horse was also dark,” she said.
The herd on the Maryland side of the island is now 125 strong after the death of Scotty’s Girl.
Four new foals increased the herd’s size this winter and spring, two colts and two fillies.
Horse-car collisions are uncommon, but about one occurs every year on the island, AINS Superintendent Trish Kicklighter said.
“They are a valuable natural resource at the park and we realize they are one of the top two reasons people come to Assateague. Plus, they’re living animals, so it does pain me when one of them gets killed, certainly, as the result of a motor vehicle accident,” Kicklighter said.
Jones-Brake took the death as an opportunity to issue an island reminder.
“We want to alert visitors to treat the island and its inhabitants with care, follow posted driving speeds and be aware that horses are wild and roaming free on the island,” Jones-Brake said. “It’s a matter of humans and nature sharing one area.”
Drivers need to be aware that horses move around the park at all times of the day and night and adjust their awareness, Jones-Brake said.
“They just love to hang along the side of the road,” said Kicklighter.
The park will consider ways to prevent such collisions in the future. More signs are not necessarily the answer, Kicklighter said, since many drivers just ignore signs. Speed limit signs already inform drivers to proceed slowly.
“We will look to see if there’s anything else we can do,” said Kicklighter.