Sitting here on Chincoteague Island on a cloudy humid day, it just seemed like the best time to make my very first blog post. I won't be doing this often, and chances are, I'll be linking you to someone else's interesting post most of the time. Best use I can see for a blog is a platform to help you hear about some of the wonderful things very dedicated people are doing to preserve wildlife.
This week, there may be a few more posts than usual because I am here for a series of events that have been taking place for the last 89 years. And I'd bet they have changed very little over those 89 years.
Here in Chincoteague, the story is unique, but contains elements of other large scale conservation programs. First you need to understand this community. It is a small town in every sense of the word. There is nothing slick or fancy about Chincoteague, and, if you didn't notice the mopeds and late model SUV's you'd assume you had stepped back in time 50 years. The local theatre is playing "Misty", a story of a pony that made this island famous. The fireman's carnival is the same as our grandmothers attended. And, frankly, the house I'm staying in hasn't been renovated in many many years.
This is Pony Penning week. Two herds of feral ponies are rounded up from Assateague Island each July. Mid-week, the volunteer fire department's Saltwater Cowboys, a scrappy group of good old boys riding in big western saddles, herd the ponies into the channel where they swim to Chincoteague. The next day, new foals are auctioned in a fund-raiser for the fire department. This keeps the number of ponies around 150, which is what the island can support.
Yesterday, the southern herd was rounded up and placed in a corral on Assateague National Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy a few shots from the roundup, and of the Saltwater Cowboys doing their job!