ASSATEAGUE, Md. — Two wild horses from Assateague Island ended up on the mainland Wednesday afternoon - an extremely rare incident that park officials say was caused by visitors and cars who illegally crowded the animals.
The horses crossed over the Rt. 611 Verrazano bridge, and were corralled about half a mile after they got onto the mainland, reported Assateague officials on Facebook. The horses were put in a trailer and returned safely.
No one was injured, but officials said they're very concerned about the incident.
A witness said that illegally-stopped visitors and vehicles blocked in the horses, who "were in an already excited and agitated state," which cut them off from the island.
The only other time wild horses were known to cross the bridge was once, decades ago, "for reasons not entirely known." They call this incident "a very unusual and very uncommon occurrence."
Officials said in the Facebook post:
Visitors are reminded that the entire causeway east of the bridge is a “No Stopping, No Parking” zone. Vehicles illegally stopping immediately after the bridge led directly to this incident... While this incident is concerning, the circumstances that led to these wild horse’s flight across the bridge yesterday is more serious. The crowding of these animals by visitors and vehicles thereby blocking their movements and path of retreat directly led to this incident. Park rules require visitors to stay at least 40 feet from horses. Due to the narrow nature of the causeway this is generally not possible at this location. Stopping and getting out of your car on the causeway to view horses is illegal. Stopping on the causeway leads directly to an unsafe situation for other vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians, for horses and for park personnel.