BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A 7-year-old mare was found dead in an Assateague Island National Seashore campground Friday, officials say.

According to their investigation, the horse had ingested large quantities of dog food a few days earlier, which caused a blockage and eventual rupture of the intestine.

A post on the National Seashore Facebook page says “most dog food contains corn, soybean, and animal products with a very high carbohydrate, protein and fat content.”

This type of food is too rich for wild horses, “whose natural forage consists of low nutrient, high fiber saltmarsh and beach grasses,” the post says.

Officials are not sure if the horse was purposefully fed, or if she found it and ate it on her own. Regardless, they are reminding Assateague Island visitors of the following:

• 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. (text/image L. Davis)

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