If you’ve visited the Maryland side of Assateague Island over the last few years you’ve encountered the Pony Patrol. It’s the small, all-volunteer year-round force dedicated to keeping the island’s two dominant invasive species—wild horses and humans—safe from each other. This summer I spoke with two Pony Patrollers—Marcus Urioste, a retired nuclear submarine commander, and Rick Bocian, a retired Baltimore firefighter. We were joined by Liz Davis, then the national seashore’s Chief of Interpretation and head of the Pony Patrol. Our conversation ranged from best ways to get wild horses to move along to the challenges of managing pandemic-driven crowds, and from the dangers that humans and wild horses pose to each other to the continuing equine soap opera that is the island’s Maryland herd.
By the way, you can hear more from Liz reflecting on her Assateague years in Episode 20, “Assateague Farewell.” You can also hear my interview with Kelly Taylor, who gets a big Pony Patrol shout-out here, in Episode 10, “Welcome Visitors.”
Here’s our episode.
Down the Rabbit Hole:
AINS Volunteer Page: https://www.nps.gov/asis/getinvolved/volunteer.htm
Washington Post: “Why can’t tourists stop messing with wild animals?”, June 16, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2023/06/16/yellowstone-bison-selfie-gored/
Wall Street Journal: “Volunteer ‘Pony Patrol’ Wrangles Humans and Protects Wild Horses,” photo/video essay, June 4, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/story/volunteer-pony-patrol-wrangles-humans-and-protects-wild-horses-a3255515
Wall Street Journal: “No Pay, Big Bugs and Obnoxious Tourists. But Many Love the Job,” May 29, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/national-park-service-summer-job-wild-horses-tourists-73bb065a (Note: This may be behind a paywall)