Have you registered for TODAY’S (3/30) ZOOM meeting regarding the proposed management plan for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park?
If you haven’t registered, there is still time! You can register for the event here: https://empsi.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Xm0AeNRoQ5G2-9NAwDEC5Q?fbclid=IwAR0bmsC03MIVSCO38sILgl6btJWWfvOV29jOk1WI8bJLN8rbhRXdVtXuQ6o
Please make sure you are asking questions! You can email your questions here: firstname.lastname@example.org. The park has also stated that the public will be able to ask questions during tonight’s meeting.
Following are a few questions that our board members have sent in to be asked. Feel free to use any or all of these!
Thank you for your support and have a great day!
Given that the Park has historically managed its longhorn cattle herd in a manner consistent with the ordinary understanding of “livestock”—including by “salting, watering, and feeding” those animals, see Nat’l Park Serv., General Management Plan at 42 (1986)—but that wild horses have never been managed in the same way, why is the Park proposing to manage longhorns and wild horses together under the same management plan?
Assuming the Park plans to continue managing wild horses as “livestock,” does the Park plan to provide food, water, and/or veterinary care for the Park’s wild horses? If not, why?
The Park has consistently acknowledged “the historical significance of wild (feral) horses in the badlands and throughout the West.” Nat’l Park Serv., Environmental Assessment for Feral Horse Reduction at 8 (1978). As such, the Park’s herd has been managed as a “historic livestock display,” id., which “adds authenticity to the historical interpretation of the park,” id. at 6. Given that that the Park’s central purpose is to preserve the “landscape that inspired [Theodore] Roosevelt” and that wild horses “were an important part of [that] landscape when Theodore Roosevelt lived in the area,” Nat’l Park Serv., Foundation Document: Theodore Roosevelt National Park at 6, 10 (2014), what steps does the Park plan to take to ensure that the modern herd is an authentic representation of those horses found in the Badlands during Roosevelt’s time there?
In the late 1980s, the Park commissioned a 300+ page study that investigated “the origins and history of feral horses in [North Dakota’s] Badlands,” recorded “the genealogy of the extant herd,” and found that horses in the Park comprise an “original” type of Badlands horse (sometime called the “Nokota”). See generally Castle McLaughlin, The History and Status of the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park (Dec. 1989). Will the Park be considering Dr. McLaughlin’s findings when determining which phenotypic varieties of horses will be maintained in the Park under its proposed management plan?
Under all of the draft alternatives proposed by the Park at this point, the maximum size of the herd will 70 horse head. On which studies has the Park relied on in reaching that maximum number? And to the extent that those studies are unpublished and/or unavailable to the general public, will the Park commit to sharing those studies/findings immediately to facilitate informed public comment?
Given that the Park’s proposed “livestock” management plan entails long-term management of horses that are historically important to the Park, unique to North Dakota’s Badlands, and have long been a controversial subject, will the Park commit to preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for its proposed livestock management plan pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”), or is the Park considering conducting some lesser scope of NEPA analysis like that found in an Environmental Assessment?
Given that NEPA prohibits federal agencies from making “any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources which would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented” before the associated NEPA process has been completed, see 42 U.S.C. § 4332(C)(v); Conner v. Burford, 848 F.2d 1441, 1446 n.13 (9th Cir. 1988), will the Park commit to suspending any gathers and/or fertility treatments of wild horses until its proposed livestock management plan has been completed?
Additional information regarding this process can be found here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=167&projectID=105110&documentID=119270&fbclid=IwAR14_4dbmMTM4CM4sp3EgqFUvtsobzCI_xtG4FHWcBio3nWlh20HxsWGASI