Wayward Zebra Found Dead in Illegal Snare Trap in Maryland
The state’s Natural Resources Police said they did not know who had set the illegal trap on private property in Upper Marlboro, about 20 miles southeast of Washington.,
One of the wayward zebras that been running freely across the backyards and roads of suburban Maryland since they escaped from a farm in late August has been found dead in an illegal snare trap, the authorities said.
A spokeswoman for the Maryland Natural Resources Police said in a statement on Thursday that officers had responded to a report on Sept. 16 of a dead animal on private property in Upper Marlboro, Md., about 20 miles southeast of Washington.
When the officers arrived, they found a dead zebra in a snare trap near a field, the spokeswoman, Lauren Moses, said in a statement. The zebra, Ms. Moses said, was believed to have been among those that had escaped from a farm in Upper Marlboro on Aug. 31.
Ms. Moses said it was illegal to set snare traps in Prince George’s County.
“At this time, police do not have any information on who placed the snare trap,” she said. “However, the Maryland Natural Resources Police will assist the Prince George’s County animal facility with this ongoing case.”
Ms. Moses referred questions about the case, such as why officials had waited nearly a month to disclose the discovery of the dead zebra, to Prince George’s County Animal Services, which she said was handling the case.
The chief of the animal services agency, Rodney Taylor, did not immediately respond to calls late Thursday night.
Mr. Taylor had initially said that five zebras had escaped from a privately owned farm. But The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Linda Lowe, a spokeswoman for the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, said that, in fact, only three zebras had gotten loose. Now, just two remain alive and on the run.
“Any further review and action taken by Prince George’s County, including any appropriate charges against the owner, will be evaluated once the zebras return to the herd,” Ms. Lowe told The Post.
The zebras had been eking out a life on territory far from the grasslands of East Africa, delighting residents and stealthily evading efforts to corral them. Linda Pennoyer, the mayor of the town of Upper Marlboro, said the animals had become local “celebrities,” their every move documented on social media.
They were part of a zeal — as a bunch of zebras is sometimes called — of 39 zebras that had been brought to a farm in Upper Marlboro from Florida in mid-August. Mr. Taylor had said he was not sure why the farm owner, whom he identified as Jerry Holly, had been keeping zebras but said they were not part of a zoo or other exposition.
He said that Mr. Holly had a license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to keep zebras. Department records indicate that the farm has had a variety of wild animals as recently as 2018, including black-handed spider monkeys, dromedaries, mandrills, red kangaroos, brown lemurs, capybaras and gibbons.
After the zebras got loose, the farm had planned to capture them by luring them into a corral baited with grain. The corral was to be rigged with a gate that would swing shut, trapping the escapees.
But the zebras proved to be a wily lot, foiling the effort week after week. Daniel I. Rubenstein, a professor of zoology at Princeton University, had said that if the zebras continued to elude capture, “they should be able to do just fine” in Prince George’s County.
The county has plenty of fields and pastures where zebras can graze, as well as streams and other places for them to drink water, which they need to do once a day, he said.
“They should be able to thrive quite nicely,” Dr. Rubenstein said in an interview this month. “They will be able to sustain themselves naturally on that landscape.”