CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (AP) – Three Chincoteague ponies have returned to their ancestral Virginia island to help boost the herd’s population.

Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company spokeswoman Denise Bowden wrote in a Facebook post that this year has been one of the most difficult in terms of herd loss. The fire company manages the wild herd.

The Daily Times of Salisbury reports that two ponies succumbed to a fungus-like disease known as “swamp cancer,” two others died after becoming stuck in mud, one broke her neck in a “freak accident” and one foal died not long after its birth.

This month’s additions to the herd are all mares. Oreo, Star and Treasure are genetically Chincoteague ponies, but the Chincoteague Pony Pedigree Database says Star was born in Texas.

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