Hello and Happy Thursday to everyone. I had a lot of questions yesterday that came about from a post on another page. Instead of responding to the same individual questions, we thought we would just answer them here:
What is currently happening with the park?
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is in the process of completing their Draft Environmental Assessment (EA).
What is a Draft EA?
A Draft EA is a document that is produced after the park analyzes what the impacts of their “proposed action” is. In this case, the parks “proposed action” is total elimination of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) requires that the park look at a “No action” alternative to their preferred action – in this case that goes back to the 1978 EA which states that 35-60 horses is what the park will allow. They also need to consider other REASONABLE alternatives. That is where all of our comments came in for the comment period that ended on January 31, 2023. They received over 6,000 UNIQUE comments. We will not know what other reasonable alternatives they considered until the Draft EA comes out.
What happens next?
The park has stated that the Draft EA would be out in the Spring of 2023. That has recently been updated to Summer 2023 per our email conversation with National Park Service Regional Director Herbert Frost. Once the Draft EA is out, there will be a chance for the public to comment again. Last time they asked us to comment on other alternatives to consider. This time the comments will be directed at the Draft EA report that is presented to us.
Recent local interviews by TRNP Park Superintendent Angie Richman seem to be setting up the narrative that IF they allow the horses to remain in the park, ONLY 35-60 (of the current 190+) horses will be allowed to stay, which is NOT enough for a genetically viable herd of horses.
What did SCR 4014 do?
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates worked hard to get North Dakota Senate Concurrent Resolution SCR 4014 drafted, introduced and PASSED (UNANIMOUSLY IN BOTH THE ND HOUSE AND SENATE)! THIS is simply an ask from the state of North Dakota that the horses be allowed to stay.
While we were in Washington DC, we were told by SEVERAL congressional staffers that having that signed resolution from our state in our advocacy toolkit was a VERY POWERFUL tool!
What about Federal protection?
Federal protection takes A LOT longer to get than the state resolution that was passed. TIMING is also EVERYTHING! We ALL learned that lesson as timing was on our side several times during the process of SCR 4014. THAT is why we are asking EVERYONE to email ALL of the names on our DC Contact list (https://chwha.org/call-to-action-dc-follow-up/) . We NEED to make members of congress aware of the plight of our horses NOW.
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is working with American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) to get federal protection for these horses. We will share more as we can, but to answer the questions, NO ONE else is working with us to get federal protection for these horses. If other groups say they are working on federal protection, this is a point where working together and sharing strategies would be helpful so that we aren’t hurting each other’s efforts. I also do not see any Calls to Action from other groups/pages asking their followers to contact anyone. Strength is numbers is another lesson we have all learned during these last 6 months. There are a couple of pages that share our posts and Calls to Action, and we are thankful to them for their support.
THIS is how the Wild Horse & Burro Act got passed. REAL change happens when voices are UNITED AND LOUD! Google Wild Horse Annie! Imagine if she decided to “quietly” advocate for wild horses behind the scenes! She had THOUSANDS of school children write letters. There was NOTHING quiet about what she did. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr told us: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
These horses matter to ALL of us and ALL of us need to let OUR government know this!
Should we wait to take any action?
To quote my good friend Dr. Castle McLaughlin: “The park has already announced their preference to remove the horses and without push back, they will.”
This week, we had 2 phone meetings with our lawyers to discuss strategy and also meetings with other wild horse advocates, like AWHC, to make sure we are doing all we can EVERY STEP of the way and from EVERY ANGLE to save these horses. Those of you who have been following us can easily see that there is A LOT that can be done while we wait for the park’s response.
Are any other local groups working with you?
We get asked this question A LOT. The answer is NO. As we stated, there are a few groups/pages like Wild in North Dakota, Ode to the Wilds and recently This Mustang Life that share some of our posts. Any fundraisers being done on other pages DO NOT support our advocacy work. They DO NOT pay for our billboard. They DO NOT pay for our legal fees. We also want to add that we extended an olive branch to all of the groups that document these horses. The ones listed here are the only ones that are actively sharing our posts.
Who are the “officials” that other groups are talking to?
We have no idea, but they are apparently NOT anyone from Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Per Superintendent Angie Richman’s email to us last week:
“Thank you for the response. Although your questions are not directly connected to the livestock plan we have continued to respond to all communication pertaining to horse and cattle management through the online communication portal. Our hope is to maintain transparency, information consistency, and equitability among the public and park stakeholders.
The portal is regularly updated to provide information about park horse and cattle management actions and answer commonly asked questions. Many of the FAQs on the portal currently answer your questions including the use of GonaCon. We updated this page as recently as April 14 and are working to respond to the recent inquiries that came in through this website. We have been including the dates of updates to answers to maintain a record of changes for site user reference. We plan to continue to use this portal found here: https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/mammals.htm to respond to questions.”
How will the rally help?
Herbert Frost, NPS Regional Director, informed us that he will be in Medora the week of July 10th. We have planned a Bully Pulpit Rally on July 12th! We plan to have experts in different areas show the positive reasons why the horses should be left in the park including their cultural, historical, ecological, biological, genetic, and economical benefits to both Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the tourist town of Medora as well as the state of North Dakota as a whole.
Our national parks were set aside for US – the taxpaying public. These are OUR parks. They are paid for with OUR tax dollars. WE get to decide what happens in our parks and to the wildlife that call the park home. THAT includes the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. THAT also includes questioning the continued use of GonaCon (A STERILANT) on our horses.
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is LITERLALLY Fighting for the Spirit of the Badlands. We have been leading this fight since the park made their announcement on December 12, 2022, and we will NOT stop until there is a management plan in place for these horses that allows for a genetically viable herd AND federal protection for these horses so that they and all of us NEVER have to go through this again!
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is committed to advocating for a wild horse management plan and protection for these unique wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home! We are fighting for a management plan that is guided by science especially when it comes to decisions regarding the removal of horses and the administration of birth control. Many other wild horse management plans have proven to be successful with their science-based plans. We are asking for the same for this amazing group of wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home.