SCR 4011 – Last part

Sadly, SCR 4011 did not pass.  As a reminder, SCR 4011 is a resolution that was introduced in the North Dakota State Senate in 2013.  The purpose of the introduction of the resolution was:

“A concurrent resolution urging the National Park Service to recognize the
historical value of the Nokota horse and provide for its appropriate management in
Theodore Roosevelt National Park.”

There are a few endnotes we would like share with you that will give some additional explanation and clarification to things that were stated in these committee hearings.

The North Dakota State Senate’s failure to pass SCR 4011, which would have helped raise awareness to the historical significance of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, did not stop Frank Kuntz from continuing to advocate for the wild horses in the park.  We were present with him in a meeting in 2020 with TRNP Park Management where he once again offered to work with the park to re-introduce the Nokota horses into the park. 

The accuracy of former Superintendent Valerie Naylor’s testimony can be tested by simply looking at the timeline we created and posted on our website ( or by reading Castle McLaughin’s report on the history of the wild horses in TRNP (also available in the library section of our website). 

There was some truth to what Valerie Naylor had to say about Colorado State University’s birth control experiment on the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park:

               “You may not know that we are working with veterinarians and leading reproductive scientists on a major, cutting-edge project on contraception in the horse herd, testing a contraceptive to see if it might be effective in limiting population growth so that round ups and sale of excess horses would not be necessary on a regular basis.”

The “testing” that has been going on since 2009 by Colorado State University, with the pesticide GonaCon being used as a method of birth control, has found a 4-dose vaccination combination that permanently sterilizes mares.  That has now paved the way to a new experiment outside of TRNP for a single dose of GonaCon that permanently sterilizes mares.  Superintendent Naylor was correct, the 11 years of experimentation on the TRNP herd has led to quite the “cutting edge” development of a contraceptive that not only limits population growth but can now permanently sterilize mares with a single dose. 

We also wanted to give some additional clarification to this statement from Superintendent Naylor:

As part of this research project, we have excellent records on all of the horses in the park, and we use that information to track and manage the horses.”

In 2019, we submitted a FOIA request to the National Park Service for access to some of those “excellent records” TRNP has on the horses.  We were told that it would take the NPS 420 hours to locate the information we were asking for as they would have to search:

               “4 filing cabinets and 6 storage shelves in the Chief of Resource Management’s office
               2 filing cabinets and 3 storage shelves in the Superintendent’s office
               5 filing cabinets and 15 shelves in the Resource Management building
               2 filing cabinets and 12 storage shelves in the Museum Curatorial and Interpretation program   
               3 filing cabinets in Central Files”

The testimony that was by far the worst to read through were the letters that were submitted by Bob Fjetland and Marylu Weber from North Dakota Badlands Horse (NDBH). 

We will once again quote NDBH from their own website:

Because wild horses of the Badlands hold a unique place in the history and settlement of North Dakota, the North Dakota Badlands Horse Registry was established to register, promote, appreciate and preserve the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.”

The core purpose of this resolution was to preserve the historical significance of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park:

“A concurrent resolution urging the National Park Service to recognize the
historical value of the Nokota horse and provide for its appropriate management in
Theodore Roosevelt National Park.”

If you are a founding member and president of a nonprofit organization dedicated to what this resolution was submitted for, how and why did you try to fight so hard against it?

Could this possibly have something to do with them losing the court case that took away their rights to use the Nokota name for their own personal profit? That seemed to be their biggest problem with this resolution – the name Nokota as a reference to the historical breed of horses the park was being asked to recognize and manage appropriately.

It should also be noted that once their group, The Nokota Horse Association, was no longer allowed to use the Nokota name, their plight to preserve the historical significance of the horses in TRNP also seemed to fade along with the Nokota Horse Association in 2009.  You will remember that they stated in a newspaper interview in 2007:

Minnesota horse breeders Nola and Dave Robson and Bob and Deb Fjetland are among those who believe the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park are descendants of horses owned by the Plains Indians.  They call the breed Nokota, and are dedicated to its preservation.”

Also interesting to note is that Bob Fjetland seemed annoyed by Frank Kuntz specifically stating that he “has demonstrated an ongoing effort to criticize, antagonize, and degrade management philosophies” but that same sentiment did not seem to apply to Bob or NDBH when TRNP entered a partnership agreement with Wild in North Dakota (WIND) in 2016.  Even though members of NDBH had worked with sanctuaries in the past to place horses from TRNP, they were adamantly against WIND working with any kind of sanctuary in the same way to keep the horses from going to slaughter.  In actuality, WIND had been working with a Wounded Warrior program in hopes of placing some of the horses with the organization to help our Veterans.  In several of his Facebook posts on the subject, Bob encouraged their followers to call the park and other elected officials to voice their opposition to this partnership with WIND. 

It would appear that it is ok to “harass” the park when the circumstances to support your personal agenda warrant that behavior. 

Marylu Weber held fast to her dedication to TRNP in 2016 and Bob Fjetland walked away from NDBH.  Little did I know when I moved to ND, at the tail end of all this in 2016, that the seat on the NDBH board that I would temporarily fill was Bob’s as a result of the vacancy created by his resignation.  

We hope that pulling these pieces of the past together in one place for you helps you see the struggle the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park have endured since the park was created in the 1940’s.  Their struggle continues today.

Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates was created to fight for the horses that remain in TRNP.  We are simply asking the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park as branch of the National Park Service, under the management of the Department of the Interior, to develop a successful horse management plan that ensures that this herd will continue to survive and thrive for generations to come.  There are countless other wild horse organizations that have created partnerships with the National Park Service, The US Forest Service, and even the Bureau of Land Management, that have developed successful horse management plans.  We are only asking for that same success for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

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