ASSATEAGUE, Md - An Assateague Island wild horse was found dead after officials say the horse ate dog food on July 17.
Assateague Island National Seashore officials say that an investigation revealed that the cause of death of a 7-year-old horse was the ingestion of dog food. The horse was found dead in a campground on Thursday. According to the report, the horse ate a large quantity of dog food on Monday, July 17 which caused a blockage that ruptured the horse's intestine. Park Authorities say that the carbohydrate, protein, and fat in dog food is too rich, and large amounts are deadly for an Assateague wild horse, whose diet is made up of low nutrient, high fiber saltmarsh and beach grasses.
Officials say "While the dog food may not have been given directly to the horse, the dog food was not properly stored away from the horses and other wildlife. All food, including your pet's food, must be properly stored. This tragic incident could have been prevented by simply storing pet food in a vehicle."
Assateague Island National Seashore Officials advise visitors of the following:
We are all visitors here at Assateague Island. Protect the resident wildlife, including the wild horses, by following a few simple rules during your visit. Take responsibility for every item you bring to the island.
• Horses can open snap-on lids and latches. Coolers and containers "stored" under picnic tables are not secure from horses and wildlife. Secure all coolers with a nylon strap to prevent wildlife from opening.
• Secure all tote or beach bags with a zippered closure. Horses can easily access open totes and bags.
• Store all unattended food in your vehicle.
• Store all pet food in your vehicle. Do not leave your pet's food and water bowls unattended. Horses, like your pets, are opportunists and will take advantage of a free meal.
• Keep food stored if horses are in your immediate vicinity. Wait until they have moved on before beginning your meal.
• Dispose of your trash immediately in dumpsters. The smell from food wrappers will attract horses and other wildlife, and if ingested could cause death.
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