By Brian Gilliland, OC Today
November 3, 2016
The four of five foals born to Assateague horses this year need a bit of help, in that little N2BHS-O, N2BHS-AO, N2BHS-AIO and N10T-JO require more suitable, as in pronounceable, names.
The exception, N6BMT-FO’s naming rights, was raffled off, with ticket sales ending on Halloween. The raffle was drawn on Tuesday and a name has been submitted by the winner, but the suggested name is pending National Seashore Superintendent Debbie Darden’s approval.
Only 500 tickets were sold at $20 apiece for the naming rights raffle.
The other four foals naming rights’ will be auctioned off via eBay, and can be located on that site by searching for the seller “AIA2009.”
The seller is the Assateague Island Alliance, the nonprofit group that raises money to benefit the National Seashore
N2BHS-O’s auction is live now, and will last until Nov. 11, with the high bidder securing the naming rights to the foal. N2BHS-O is an unmarked sorrel colt born April 18.
The others will follow at the conclusion of the previous auction, with the entire operation expected to be completed by mid-December.
The starting bid in each auction is $300. Last year’s auction raised $7,900 for the park and the wild horse management program.
“It’s really exciting, with five new foals, it gives people more opportunity to further connect to the island, and makes an interesting story to tell,” Ashlie Kozlowski, AIA outreach coordinator, said. “People really connect with the horses, and it’s one of the main reasons people keep coming back year after year.”
Kozlowski said the money raised would go towards genetic testing for the herd, with the results helping to determine how best to manage the horse population.
“Some people don’t agree with the program, some people love it,” Kozlowski said. “People will make gifts of the names, or choose one born on the same day.”
Kozlowski said the program is going to grow, along with the herd, next year.
“We’re at 88 horses right now,” which means no contraception will be administered to the horses this year, Kozlowski said.
Since 1994 the park has administered contraceptives to the herd to control population. At that time, according to Allison Turner, the biological technician who has managed the herd since the late 1980s, the population of horses had increased to about 170 animals, which was more than the habitat could support.
Turner began administering PZP, Porcine Zona Pellucida vaccine, which causes the mare’s immune system to deactivate sperm receptors in egg cells. Without active receptors fertilization shouldn’t occur, Turner explained.
“We have 45 mares, and they all could foal next year,” Kozlowski said. It’s unlikely, she continued, but next year could be another big one for Assateague Island.