Are you ready to pull up your sleeves and start writing your comment letter?
I want to say that our comments this time can be the same as they were last time. We DO NOT have to offer NEW information to make a SUBSTANTIVE comment. IF you feel that the Park has answered your last comment letter to your satisfaction, then move on. IF you feel they have NOT given a satisfactory answer, then ABSOLUTELY restate your comment.
IF you are NOT well versed in the topic, don’t state things you don’t understand. One of our followers is a historian. They are working on their comment letter mostly filled with historical FACTS. They have 9 pages so far and they are still working on it! We won’t cover that much in our comment letter, because we don’t have the knowledge they do. That being said, don’t be afraid to look up words or ask questions so that you CAN understand. Knowledge is power 😉
Comments should highlight (with evidence, studies, or personal anecdotes where possible) why impacts will be significant to resources such as:
Economic impacts to local governments, businesses, and residents
Wildlife and wildlife habitat
Historic and cultural resources
Ecologically critical areas
We also want to remind everyone that we DO have talking points along with documents you can read for yourself to help support your own comment letter to the Park on our website: https://chwha.org/save-the-trnp-wild-horses/
We are giving suggestions in these posts. Please do not copy our words verbatim and send them in as your own. Find a way to say the same thing in your own words. That helps give power to your words as an individual comment, so it will not be seen as a form letter.
We are going to start at the beginning of the Draft EA:
The classification of the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park as “livestock”.
First, for people who have been following this herd of horses, you know that the Park USED TO refer to these horses as “a historical demonstration herd” or “feral” and the horses USED TO be included in the Park’s definition of “wildlife”. Actually, if you read Superintendent Richman’s Superintendent’s Compendium (labeled NPS 2011a on the Park’s planning website) In May of 2023, the horses were referred to as “wildlife”:
“Disturbing Wildlife: All wildlife in the park is wild and potentially dangerous. Except for inadvertent or casual encounters with wildlife in areas where traffic is required or essential, willfully approaching, remaining, viewing, or engaging in any activity within 25 yards to bison, elk, and feral horses or closer to any other wildlife including nesting birds, or within any distance that disturbs, displaces, or otherwise interferes with the free unimpeded movement of wildlife, or creates or contributes to a potentially hazardous condition or situation, is prohibited.”
Insert any of those quotes about how it is easy to remember the truth and harder to keep up with the lies.
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates has been asking for YEARS about the classification of the horses in the Park – LONG before this “Livestock Plan” even started. The Park cannot simply change the classification of these horses without input from the public. We have been asking for YEARS for that documentation and since the Park has not given it to us in our FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, we are left to assume that is because the document does NOT exist.
As easily as they changed the classification of the horses to “livestock” they can easily change it back.
Here is part of what our lawyers wrote in our last comment letter about this topic. I chose this because I think you will all enjoy how our lawyers called them out on their inconsistencies. There is A LOT more to our 68 page comment letter – you can view it all on our website:
“The Park’s Ad Hoc Definition of “Livestock” Does Not Carry the Force of Law; the Agency Must Explain Its Rationale
Evidently, the Park recognized that the inconsistency between its use of “livestock” and the plain meaning of that term is problematic for its end-goal of eliminating wild horses from the TRNP. So, the Park decided to invent its own definition and post it to its website.
In any case, the Park has not explained how it ascertained this novel definition of “livestock.” Nor has it explained how this newly minted definition applies to wild horses since neither the Park nor anyone else “selectively breed[s]” these animals for any reason, let alone domestic or agricultural purposes—at least not anymore; 5 to the contrary, one of the Park’s primary contentions is that wild horses are breeding too quickly on their own and there has been no assertion from the Park that it is selecting specific horses for domestic or agricultural purposes. E.g., Wild Horse EA at 4. The Park has also failed to explain why its definition does not apply to the Park’s bighorn sheep, bison, or elk herds. As the Park has recognized in the past, all three have, at some point, “been selectively bred by humans” for inclusion in the Park.
If the Park insists on applying its blatantly outcome-determinative definition to wild horses, it must explain in any forthcoming NEPA document how that definition was derived, how it applies to wild horses, and why the Park is choosing to treat similarly situated animals differently. Anything less is textbook arbitrary and capricious action under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 706(2).”
Since we are not all lawyers…here are some other supporting documents you can use for your argument against the horses being classified as “livestock”:
According to 29 CFR § 780.328, the federal definition of “livestock”: The term “livestock” includes cattle, sheep, horses, goats, and other domestic animals ordinarily raised or used on the farm.
29 CFR § 780.120 further clarifies: The meaning of the term “livestock” as used in section 3(f) is confined to the ordinary use of the word and includes only domestic animals ordinarily raised or used on farms. That Congress did not use this term in its generic sense is supported by the specific enumeration of activities, such as the raising of fur-bearing animals, which would be included in the generic meaning of the word. The term includes the following animals, among others: Cattle (both dairy and beef cattle), sheep, swine, horses, mules, donkeys, and goats.
Our friend Theresa at Oregon Wild Horse Organization explains: “It makes it clear that wild animals may be raised on a farm, but not be “livestock” just because they are. Therefore, when the courts ruled that wild horses living in the wild are no less wild than grizzly bears -Mountain States V Hodel – 799 F.2d 1423 (10th Cir. 1986) and again in WHOA v NMLB support that these horses that the NPS called wild in previous documents cannot now just be changed and placed under the legal designation of livestock because they say so. They deemed them wild until this year when they decided to get rid of them.”
Under North Dakota Century Code Title 11. Counties § 11-33-02.1, The state of North Dakota defines “livestock” as: “Livestock” includes beef cattle, dairy cattle, sheep, swine, poultry, horses, bison, elk, fur animals raised for their pelts, and any other animals that are raised, fed, or produced as a part of farming or ranching activities.
36 C.F.R. §§ 1.4, 2.1, 2.2 discusses the preservation of natural and cultural resources. It can be read here: https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-36/chapter-I/part-2/section-2.1
Further: 36 C.F.R. § 1.4 states that:
Wildlife means any member of the animal kingdom and includes a part, product, egg or offspring thereof, or the dead body or part thereof, except fish.