‘Aggressive’ wild horse named Chip got booted from his home. Now he’ll live in Texas

Chip the wild horse has lived on Assateague Island in Maryland for years — and he’s become a problem.

The harem stallion has gotten too used to having people around and it’s made him aggressive, the National Park Service said. Park rangers decided it’s time for Chip to relocate to Texas.

Since 2017, Chip has been the cause of more than half of all incidents between horses and park visitors, the National Park Service said in a Monday, May 2, news release.

He’s become “highly food conditioned,” and he’s acted aggressively toward park visitors and staff while trying to get food.

“He is also extremely resistant to non-contact methods used by park staff to move horses out of potentially dangerous situations —totally ignoring actions which cause other horses to move,” park rangers said in the news release. “For these reasons, (the horse) was removed from Assateague Island.”

Some horses in Maryland are learning to associate people with food. They become unafraid of visitors and are willing to act aggressively to get food.

“Removal often becomes the only option to manage a highly food conditioned animal, especially one causing the majority of negative and dangerous interactions with the public,” park officials said. “We do not take these decisions lightly.”

Chip will now live at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, about 120 miles southeast of Fort Worth.

The ranch encompasses more than 14,000 acres and houses nearly 800 animals. Bison, cattle, horses, tigers and several other animals all live at the ranch.

It has housed animals that once roamed public lands and were “threatened with extermination by the federal government,” The Humane Society of the United States said.

Chip isn’t the only horse to become habituated, and park officials are trying to address the issue.

Assateague Island rangers have updated food storage regulations to make it harder for horses to have easy access to food.

The only place campers can store food is in their car or in a strapped cooler inside a food storage box. Each picnic table on the island was replaced with one that included a horse-proof food storage compartment in 2019, according to the National Park Service.

“All visitors need to take this food storage issue seriously and help us reduce the frequency of inappropriate interactions with the wild horses,” said Seashore Superintendent Hugh Hawthorne. “The free roaming nature of the Assateague horses is what makes them so unique and special.”

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