This week, facts about Chincoteague ponies. It's the annual Pony Penning on the islands of Assateague and Chincoteague, off the coast of Virginia.
CURWOOD: It's Living On Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.
[MUSIC UP AND UNDER]
CURWOOD: The history of the wild ponies of Chincoteague Island is still a bit of a mystery. Legend has it that a 16th century Spanish galleon capsized off the coast of Virginia. Its cargo of ponies somehow managed to escape to the nearby islands of Assateague and Chincoteague. But others say penny pinching Virginians on the mainland kept their horses on the islands to avoid paying a 17th century fencing tax. Well, no matter how they got there, this last band of wild horses east of the Rocky Mountains has made the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge its home.
They've adapted to the coarse vegetation, and in a squeeze they're even known to eat poison ivy. In fact, the ponies have survived so well that their population must be kept at 150, the maximum number that the Refuge can support. So, every year in late July, local volunteer fire fighters pose as saltwater cowboys and stage a roundup for the annual pony penning. When low tide comes, the cowboys lead the herd across the channel from Assateague to Chincoteague. The next day, the foals are sold at auction to a lucky few who adopt them as pets or for show. Last year, 84 ponies sold for between $2,000 and $7,500 each. And that ain't hay. And for this week, that's the Living On Earth Almanac.
Living on Earth wants to hear from you!
P.O. Box 990007
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.
Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.
Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion
The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.
Energy Foundation: Serving the public interest by helping to build a strong, clean energy economy.
Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.
Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth