Public comments are open until April 15 on six possible livestock management plans proposed by park officials. The National Parks System (NPS) is not covered under the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Since 2009 the NPS has been applying the contraceptive GonaCon in a study in partnership with Colorado State University. They have completed the study. The new proposal includes changing the herd to one that consists entirely of non-reproductive animals.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the only places in the entire park system where a herd of horses can be seen.
The plan will take about a year to craft after comments are received.
We urge you to sign up to hear the virtual meeting prior to crafting comments.
From Park Service:
Those wishing to attend the virtual public meeting about the management plan for the horses and longhorns at Theodore Roosevelt National Park must register online in advance at https://empsi.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Xm0AeNRoQ5G2-9NAwDEC5Q.
Public comments can be made until April 15 and must be made online through the Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at click HERE.
Comments also can be mailed to Superintendent, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, P.O. Box 7, Medora, N.D., 58645.
Draft preliminary alternatives under consideration and subject to public comment will be discussed during a virtual meeting on Wednesday, March 30:
- No action: Stewardship of the horse and livestock herds would continue under current management plans with an objective of having 35 to 60 horses and up to 12 longhorn steers. This would require “ongoing capture, handling and sale of excess horses, along with contraception of some segment of the horse herd.”
- Reduce the herds over time, resulting in no livestock: This option would require fathering and selling young horses, those three years old and younger, and fertility control of remaining animals, allowing most horses and the longhorn steers to “live out their lives in the park.”
- Maintain non-reproductive herds, move longhorns north: This would involve gathering and selling young horses and controlling fertility of remaining horses, releasing them to “live out their lives in the park.” A group of 15 to 30 non-reproductive horses would be placed in a new pasture in the south unit for visitor viewing and “maintained at determined numbers” by introducing new, non-reproductive animals. Longhorns would be placed in a new pasture in the north unit, separate from bison, and maintained at five to 15 head by periodically introducing non-reproductive animals.
- Maintain non-reproductive herds, move longhorns to Elkhorn: A variation of maintaining non-reproductive herds would place the longhorns in a new pasture at the Elkhorn unit, where Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch cabin once stood, located between the north and south units.
- Maintain reproductive herds of horses and cattle: This would involve gathering and selling some young horses, fertility control of part of the herd and maintaining a “representative group” of reproductive horses roaming the south unit. The horse herd would be maintained at 30 to 70 head through reproduction and introduction of new reproductive animals. The longhorns would be placed in a new pasture in the north unit, separate from the bison, and maintained at 15 to 40 head by introducing reproductive animals over time. A genetic management plan would be developed for both species.
- Maintain non-reproductive horse herd and remove cattle: This would require gating and selling young horses and fertility control of remaining horses, releasing most at large in the south unit. Horse numbers would be maintained at 30 to 70 by introducing additional non-reproductive animals, while longhorns would be removed from the park.
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