A man is facing criminal charges for riding one of the wild horses at a national park where the Maryland herd of feral animals is protected.
National Park Service spokeswoman Kelly Taylor told news outlets that charges were filed against the man, but she didn’t release his name or specify the charges.
The Salisbury Daily Times reported Sunday that a video of the man riding a horse on Assateague Island circulated on social media.
“I think that’s one thing to point out is that this gentleman was very, very lucky that he was not thrown from the horse or stepped on,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the man faces a possible fine of up to $5,000 and a maximum of six months in jail if he is convicted.
The wild horses are split into herds in Virginia and Maryland and separated by a fence on the state lines. The National Park Service manages the Maryland herd, while the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company manages the Virginia herd.
The park service says the horses occasionally kick and bite visitors who get too close to the animals.
“Treating wild horses like tame animals takes away the wildness that makes them special,” the park service says on its website.