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After decades of attempted eradication, advocates fear wild horses in western North Dakota face bleak future

As Theodore Roosevelt National Park mulls a new plan for managing the horse herd — that could reduce the number of horses significantly or remove them entirely — advocates urge them to maintain a genetically healthy population.

We mentioned a few weeks ago that we were blessed to be able to spend a day at Theodore Roosevelt National Park with Patrick Springer from the Fargo Forum and Frank Kuntz who has been advocating for these horses for over 40 years now.

The story can be found on the Forum’s website here: https://www.inforum.com/news/north-dakota/after-decades-of-attempted-eradication-advocates-fear-wild-horses-in-western-north-dakota-face-bleak-future

MEDORA, N.D. — The exotic cats were the star attraction at the Gold Seal Company’s zoo, but few visitors likely suspected that the lions and tigers sometimes were fed meat from wild horses captured at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The horses were considered a pesky invasive species that were inferior to native species, such as the bison and elk that also roam the park.

Having failed to eliminate all of the wild horses from the park when it was created in 1947, park officials for more than three decades carried out a policy bent on removing the herd.

“For decades, they didn’t want the horses,” said Castle McLaughlin, who was hired to research the historical background and management of the park herd. During the 1950s and 1960s, she said, “removed horses were always sold to slaughter.”

Some of those unlucky horses ended up on the menu for exotic cats in the 1960s and early 1970s at the long-defunct Medora Zoo, her research found.

In response to public outcry, the park lifted its policy striving for total removal of the horses in 1970, when it recognized the horses as part of the “historical setting” commemorating the open range ranching of Roosevelt’s time in the Little Missouri Badlands in the 1880s.

Still, “surreptitious” horse shootings by park rangers, usually to eliminate unwanted stallions, continued sporadically until the 1980s, when McLaughlin was conducting her research as a National Park Service employee, she said.

The park abandoned large-scale horse removals in the 2000s following a string of mishaps that included the deaths of horses and the crash of a helicopter used to round up the horses. Instead, rangers now use a contraceptive drug delivered by dart gun to control the population, along with small, “low-stress” horse removals.

Although popular with visitors — the horses are followed by tens of thousands on social media fan pages — they have been shunned or merely tolerated by park administration over the years, in the eyes of horse advocates.

The park has never had a formal management plan for the horses, which are managed under a 1978 environmental assessment that set a goal of maintaining a population of 35 to 60 horses and introducing new bloodlines.

Today, with a herd of about 200, the park is in the early stages of drafting a horse management plan . A slate of options ranges from making no changes to totally eliminating the horses, which roam the south unit, and a demonstration herd of longhorn cattle in the north unit.

The fate of the wild horses, which have long found refuge in the rugged Badlands, now rests on the outcome of the planning process, which park officials hope to complete next year.

Part of the ‘historic scene’

Faced with handling several hundred hard-to-catch wild horses, the newly established Theodore Roosevelt National Park turned to readily available experts for help: cowboys.

Starting in the 1950s, the park called upon Medora rodeo cowboy and rancher Tom Tescher and his brothers for help.

Tescher studied the horses’ genealogy and behavior, as well as the territory of each band. He kept written records and could recite a horse’s family history dating back several generations.

Of even greater practical value, he knew how to chase, catch and handle the horses.

As did many ranchers, the Teschers grazed their livestock in the area that became the park until the early 1950s, when the number of wild horses was estimated at 400 to 500.

The presence of “trespass livestock” was common even after the park’s establishment in 1947 and was so flagrant that cowboys often socialized at the former Peaceful Valley Ranch, which served as the park’s original headquarters, according to McLaughlin’s history.

Rangers ran monthly sweeps of the park, checking for brands, and notified ranchers to remove their livestock. A few cases went to court.

In the mid-1960s, a series of roundups reduced the horse herd to an all-time low of 16 horses. A new master plan for the park included a goal of totally eliminating the horses, sparking “tremendous” local opposition, according to McLaughlin.

The park’s decades-long policy of seeking the removal of all horses was reversed in 1970, when Superintendent Art Sullivan determined feral horses were an important part of the “historic scene,” chronicled by Roosevelt himself in his writings about his ranching experiences.

Despite the policy allowing horses in the park, staff carried out a “program of surreptitious elimination of the horses,” Sullivan told McLaughlin, citing an example of a ranger who shot a horse and passed it off as “winter kill.”

In 1974, park officials decided they needed to clarify federal ownership of the remaining horses and invoked North Dakota’s estray law, which allowed the park to assume ownership if no ranchers stepped forward to claim specific horses after public notices were given.

No ranchers stepped forward, and the park assumed ownership of the approximately 40 horses in the park with the intent of managing the horse herd as an “integral part of the wildlife inhabiting the park.”

Horse removals continued, however, and the designation of the wild horses as wildlife would not last long.

The park invited a range specialist from the Bureau of Land Management to evaluate the herd and suitability of the habitat for horses.

“The habitat in Theodore Roosevelt National Park can best be described as excellent for wild horses,” the expert, Milton Frei, wrote in his 1978 report. “It should be obvious to even an untrained observer that the park could support a much larger population of wild horses without adverse impacts upon the soil or vegetative resources, as well as other wildlife species.”

In 1978, the park adopted an environmental assessment that called for maintaining the horse herd at 35 to 60 head, a goal that remains in effect.

That fall, disaster struck during the roundup when seven horses were killed and others were injured, primarily by wire cuts, according to McLaughlin’s history. Eleven horses were sold, nearly all for slaughter, with a filly sold to the zoo for cat food.

Manipulating bloodlines

After years of concerns about inbreeding among the horse herd, the park in 1981 embraced a major change in management of the horses. It began implementing a program to remove wild stallions and replace them with domestic studs.

In a roundup that year, five stallions were roped; two dying from crushed windpipes while resisting the ropes. Another stallion with a swollen hock was shot. Most of the dominant stallions were removed.

A Medora lawyer, Jay Brovold, expressed skepticism about inbreeding as justification for removing the stallions and harshly criticized what he called the “inhumane circus conducted in the name of a wild horse roundup.” He added, “The entire treatment of these animals has been extremely barbaric, asinine and idiotic.”

The following year, in 1982, a Minnesota man donated an Arabian colt that was placed in corrals with two fillies, which abandoned the colt when they were released after 10 days of shared confinement, a disappointing beginning to the park’s program of introducing fresh bloodlines.

Soon after, the park released another yearling colt, a part-shire, part-paint. The horse became known as the Brookman stud, named after the Montana ranch from which he came. In time, the Brookman stud’s bloodline would become influential.

Other Arabian horses and quarter horses were introduced into the horse herd to add domestic blood that ranchers persuaded park officials would make it easier to sell captured horses.

Tragedy again struck in a roundup in 1986 — events that prompted McLaughlin to explore the history of the park horses — when seven horses died, including a stallion that collapsed and died while being chased by a helicopter.

A mare died from injuries trying to escape from a holding pen at a livestock auction barn in Dickinson. A front-end loader deposited several dying horses behind the sale barn, where they were discovered by park employees and humanely euthanized by a veterinarian.

McLaughlin bought a stallion at the auction, which she turned over to a pair of brothers who had begun buying park horses for preservation.

Linton ranchers Leo and Frank Kuntz, who began buying the horses to ride in the Great American Horse Race circuit, bought more than 50 of the horses, which became the nucleus of a herd to preserve the park horses’ original bloodlines.

Today, Frank Kuntz takes care of about 200 horses, his own and those owned by the nonprofit Nokota Horse Conservancy, to maintain what’s called the Nokota breed, named the state’s honorary equine in 1993.

The Kuntz brothers and others, including McLaughlin, pleaded with park officials not to remove horses that showed characteristics of the former “Indian ponies” and early ranch stock, the forebears of the park’s herd.

But the park persisted in its campaign to remove the wild horses, McLauglin wrote in her 1989 history of the park horses, with preference given to descendants of the quarter horses and other domestic horses introduced to the herd.

While working on the history as a National Park Service employee in the late 1980s, McLaughlin learned the surreptitious shooting of certain horses, usually dominant wild stallions, continued. Unlike wild horses on federal lands owned by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, the horses in national parks are not protected by federal law.

She learned of a horse that was in the crosshairs and named the stallion Target to put park employees on notice that she was aware of what was going on. As a result, it took the park many years to capture Target, who was purchased by the Kuntz brothers.

“He went on to become one of the dominant stallions and a real force,” McLaughlin said in an interview. “That horse was amazing.”

Today, as a result of the removal of the dominant wild horses and introduction of domestic stock, the park herd is not nearly as wild as it once was, McLaughlin and Frank Kuntz said.

“My feeling strongly from the beginning was that the original horses be the ones in the park,” McLaughlin said, “because they were different from domestic horses and they were very difficult to see. It was a real thrill for visitors to see them, and they had survived, you know, decades of attempts to eradicate.”

‘The horses need your voice’

In June, Chris and Gary Kman, joined by Frank Kuntz, drove up to a favorite summer pasture of the horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Lindbo Flats, along the northern edge of the park’s south unit.

Chris Kman spotted a familiar truck, one used by park rangers. “They must be out darting the horses,” she said. Since 2009, the park has been darting mares eight months and older with a birth-control drug.

The Kmans and Kuntz crawled under the park’s boundary fence and walked half a mile to a group of horses standing on and around the base of a sculpted butte, relaxing in sizzling 90-degree heat.

It turned out that two bands were sharing the location, one led by a stallion named Sidekick and the other by a younger stallion named Remington who formed his band a couple years ago.

Because of the park’s ongoing contraception efforts and the continued removal of small numbers of horses, the population of the horse herd is skewing older. By Chris Kman’s count, 26 horses in the park are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old.

“So, the next few years are going to be hard,” she said, anticipating deaths.

The Kmans have become avid horse followers and advocates since moving to Dickinson in 2016, when Chris became a manager at the local Walmart. They began photographing the horses and posting the photos to their Facebook page, Chasing Horses.

In 2019, they opened a Chasing Horses shop in Medora, selling horse memorabilia, and two years later established the nonprofit Chasing Horses Foundation, which advocates for the horses.

Chris Kman has joined Frank Kuntz as an outspoken critic of the park’s management of the horses and what they view as its disregard for preserving the herd’s original bloodlines. They cite horse genetics experts, who say a minimum herd size of 150 is required for a healthy herd.

Because there have not been any removals since the start of the pandemic, Frank Kuntz believes there are signs the herd is rebuilding.

“Now that they’ve been left alone for a couple of years, they’re starting to repair themselves” and keeping bands intact, he said. “They’re teaching younger horses.”

The park’s evaluation of six options for a new “livestock” management plan likely will result in a much smaller herd and the possible elimination of the horses, Chris Kman believes. The current use of contraception for all mares eight months and older and removal of horses will result in the herd’s decline over time, she said.

“I don’t see how they’d have anything left,” Chris Kman said. She bristles at the livestock designation, which she and McLaughlin believe would allow the park greater latitude in what they do to the horses.

“They’re not livestock, and they’re not starving to death,” she said, arguing there is enough grass to maintain the herd at its present size, about 200.

There will be two more opportunities for public comment on the new management plan with dates yet to be announced. Besides eliminating the horse herd or leaving it alone, other options include reducing the herd to as few as 15 to 30 non-reproductive horses.

Chris Kman hopes North Dakota residents will make their wishes known. “We need people in North Dakota to get upset about what’s happening,” she said. “The horses need your voice.”

Frank Kuntz welcomes the opportunities for public comment but said input should have been sought much earlier. “They should have had these public hearings for the last 40 years,” he said.

Angie Richman, the park’s superintendent, said the planning process remains in the early stages, so little can be said about what will be recommended.

Unlike bison and elk, the National Park Service does not recognize wild horses as native species in need of protection and must ensure there is adequate grass and other resources to maintain all of the grazing wildlife populations in the park, park officials have said.

Tribes in the area will be consulted for the new management plan, a process that is just starting, Richman said. A new rangeland assessment is also underway.

“We still have a lot of work to do with that,” she said. “We’re still early in the process.”

At two National Park Service locations on the East Coast, Assateague Island National Seashore and Shackleford Banks at Cape Lookout National Seashore, horses are regarded as a cultural resource, and there are efforts to protect important bloodlines, Chris Kman said.

That approach also should be used at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, she said. “The precedent has already been set. You can’t tell me what happens in that national park can’t happen here,” she said of Assateague Island.

As the Kmans and Kuntz were leaving the horses at Lindbo Flats, the group met the departing park rangers, who were carrying a dart gun and had been working behind a butte, out of sight.

“They leave when they see us,” Chris Kman said after the rangers left, adding she believes park employees do not want to be photographed while darting the horses. She and Kuntz wondered how the park tracks which mares have been given the contraceptive drug since they are not marked in any obvious way, suggesting they are not trying to manage bloodlines.

Chris Kman does not blame current park administrators for the practices of their predecessors. “But what did they learn from that?” Given the park’s history of managing the horses, “It doesn’t give you a lot of hope.”


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.

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Articles in the Fargo Forum

Patrick Springer is an awesome reporter in North Dakota that has been writing about the plight of the wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora home for a few decades now. He has recently released a few more articles. We hope that you will consider registering with the Fargo Forum to show your support of Patrick’s work.

The first article came out a few weeks ago, You can read the entire article here: https://www.inforum.com/news/north-dakota/wild-horses-in-north-dakota-badlands-shaped-by-sitting-bull-french-aristocrat-wealthy-pennsylvanian

We have also copied and pasted it here for you:

We hope these articles show what a critical time this is for these horses. Thank you for your continued support!

Wild horses in North Dakota Badlands shaped by Sitting Bull, French aristocrat, wealthy Pennsylvanian

The wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park have a mixed pedigree shaped by the likes of Sitting Bull, a flamboyant French aristocrat and a wealthy Pennsylvanian who started a massive ranch in western North Dakota.

By Patrick Springer

July 15, 2022 10:55 AM

MEDORA, N.D. — Castle McLaughlin will never forget the powerful stallion that was fighting so furiously to avoid capture that he was soaked with sweat. He had run for hours under the beating sun to elude a helicopter, and his black coat shone from the effort.

Later, when the stallion had finally been caught and was held in a pen, she realized he was not black, as she thought, but was a blue roan, one of a group of horses that had been captured that day in a roundup at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

“That horse just fought the entire day to escape from the helicopter, and he was just drenched with sweat and blood; he was just wet like he had been in a river or something,” McLaughlin said. In the livestock barn pen, ranchers who had helped with the roundup were tormenting the stallion with electric prods.

“They all ganged up on him because he fought so hard,” she said. McLaughlin, who worked for the National Park Service, was an accomplished rider and was originally designated to ride in the roundup.

As it turned out, she was grateful that did not happen. “It was horrible, horrible, just a disaster,” she said of that roundup in 1986. “I saw, I think, seven horses die that day.”

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She bought the stallion in an auction — the horses were sold in lots and by the pound, many purchased by canneries — and soon after gave him to a pair of brothers who would become her partners in a decades-long effort to preserve the heritage of the wild horses that for more than a century have found refuge in the park’s Little Missouri Badlands.

After the roundup, she had many questions about the horses that senior officials at Theodore Roosevelt National Park could not answer. But they invited her to submit a research proposal that led to a report documenting the unique history of the wild horses that Theodore Roosevelt himself wrote about while ranching in the Badlands in the 1880s.

She would learn that the horses had a mixed pedigree shaped by American Indians and pioneering ranchers that involved such notable characters as Sitting Bull, the Marquis de Mores and a wealthy Pennsylvania Dutch adventurer who came to the Badlands in 1880 to hunt buffalo and ended up with a sprawling ranch with thousands of horses on the open range.

McLaughlin’s hope was that documenting their history would help protect the horses, considered by the National Park Service to be “livestock.” The horses are the subject of a new management plan under study with a slate of options that range from eliminating the horses entirely to making no changes.

Sadly, she said, it has not turned out that way. The horses remain outsiders, tolerated more than they’re embraced, fighting to survive against the harsh environment of the Badlands and the whims of the humans who control their fate.

Ranchers reign

At noon on July 19, 1881, a caravan of 44 men and 143 women and children plodded wearily onto the parade ground at Fort Buford in northwest North Dakota. After an exile of almost five years in Canada, an exhausted and hungry Sitting Bull was ready to surrender.

Sitting Bull and the others gave up their weapons and all but 14 of their gaunt ponies — a transfer of horses that would influence the bloodlines of the horses roaming the Badlands years later.

Sitting Bull circa 1885 David F. Barry Library of Congress.jpg
Sitting Bull as photographed by David F. Barry, circa 1885. Contributed / Library of Congress photo

Three Fort Buford traders acquired the surrendered Hunkpapa ponies. A flamboyant French aristocrat and contemporary of Roosevelt’s, the Marquis de Mores, bought 250 of the horses, including all of the mares.

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A former cavalry officer, the Marquis de Mores valued the endurance, sturdiness and sure-footedness of the American Indian ponies, which he used to breed saddle horses, according to McLaughlin’s research. The marquis also bought 150 “broncos” for his ill-fated stagecoach line between Medora and Deadwood.

In 1884, the marquis sold 60 of the Lakota mares to a former Pennsylvanian named A.C. Huidekoper, who ran an immense, 140,000-acre, unfenced horse ranch in southwest North Dakota.

Marquis de Mores on horseback.jpg
The Marquis de Mores, a French nobleman and former cavalry officer, is best known for his failed meatpacking venture in 1880s Medora, but he also acquired some of the horses surrendered by Sitting Bull and his followers in 1881, which he used to breed horses in the Little Missouri Badlands.

“Some of these ponies had bullet holes through their necks, received in the Custer fight,” a reference to the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, Huidekoper wrote in his Badlands ranching memoir.

Huidekoper bred the Sioux mares with larger thoroughbred and Percheron stallions, producing what he called the “American horse,” for sale as saddle stock, race horses and polo ponies.

“I spent fifteen years in breeding up the finest range herd in this country,” he wrote.

The hybrid horses bred by the Marquis de Mores and Huidekoper, both drawing upon the horses surrendered by Sitting Bull and his followers, were early examples of the mixed-ancestry horses that were commonly used by early ranchers throughout western North Dakota, McLaughlin found.

The horses left by the marquis after he abandoned his cattle and meatpacking enterprises following the disastrous winter of 1886-87 were especially important in the ancestry of the horses that became so prevalent around the Badlands, McLaughlin believes.

“We know de Mores left horses on the open range in the Medora area before he left,” she said. “There was really no incentive to look in every nook and cranny.”

A.C. Huid.jpg
A.C. Huidekoper came from Pennsylvania to the Little Missouri Badlands in the early 1880s to hunt buffalo and ended up becoming one of the nation’s largest horse breeders. He bought remnants of the horse herd surrendered by Sitting Bull and his followers, which he bred on his sprawing HT Ranch based near Amidon, N.D.

By contrast, Huidekoper’s operation, though sprawling, was more controlled, allowing fewer horses to go uncollected, she said.

Strikingly, her research shows the ancestry of the wild horses in the Badlands was diverse. The horses surrendered by Sitting Bull and his followers were just one of many sources of American Indian horses, and the Marquis de Mores and Huidekoper were merely the largest of many pioneering Badlands ranchers who had horses that were allowed to run loose or strayed, turning the rugged and remote terrain into an equine melting pot.

As recently as the 1950s, before the construction of Garrison Dam, hundreds of stray horses ran free across the western reaches of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, home to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation.

The tribes’ villages had been important trading centers where horses were exchanged in a vast American Indian trade network that existed well before the time of Lewis and Clark. The Native American trading system brought to the Northern Plains mustangs that descended from horses that had escaped or been stolen from the Spanish conquistadors in the Southwest.

‘Horses everywhere’

Lincoln Lang, who ranched near Roosevelt in the Medora area, bought one of Huidekoper’s “American horses” and was a satisfied customer, although he had a few qualms.

“Of a sullen temperament, this animal was a cross between Kentucky racing stock and a mustang mare, showing every indication of speed,” he wrote, adding that mixed ancestry was common among horses on the range.

“The western range horses of the early days usually comprised an intermixture of breeds,” and the “aboriginal strain was present to a greater or lesser extent.”

A cowboy who was the son of a foreman on the HT Ranch founded by Huidekoper said the hardy American horse was capable of routinely covering long distances.

“We used to ride 30 to 50 miles a day, probably an average of 20 miles in a work day,” Harry Roberts said. “I had a horse that trotted 50 miles in five hours.”

Descendants of the de Mores-Huidekoper crosses were still in widespread use in western North Dakota in the 1950s, and McLaughlin was able to interview many ranchers from the area who had experience with the horses.

Five horses run in front of a rock face, their manes and tails flowing behind them.
Blaze and his band are seen galloping in western North Dakota. Volunteers have named each of the horses and have tracked the approximately 20 bands.

“People bragged about the Badlands horses — called them ‘broncos,’ they were so tough,” said Ed Newcomb, a rancher from around Grassy Butte.

“There were horses everywhere when I was a kid,” he said. “We trailed 200 to 300 at a time to Killdeer. … In the ‘30s, by God, who knows what they made it on, but they made it — there was no grass, no water.”

A neighboring rancher from the Grassy Butte area had fond memories of an old American Indian pony his family called Pluto.

“He was the ugliest, and also the best, horse I ever threw a leg over,” Raymand Carson told McLaughlin. “He was the fastest walking horse I ever seen, also the most nondescript. He was only about 900 pounds. … He could run, cut cattle, do anything, he was so smart. He had an ugly head and was always thin — all he ever had was abuse. I’d give any amount of money for a horse like that.”

As machines replaced draft horses in the 1920s and 1930s, farmers abandoned large numbers of horses, and more were released during the economic depression of the 1930s.

Although ranchers appreciated the abilities of the American horse crosses, they were put off by their appearance and came to prefer the quarter horse, recognized as a unique breed around 1940, which became and remains the horse of the West, McLaughlin said.

As a result, the traditional horse crosses that helped establish ranching in western North Dakota faded away over time. It was common for cowboys in the 1930s and later to chase the wild horses, often selling those they caught for slaughter, with the lucky ones ending up as bucking horses on the rodeo circuit.

Because the descendants of the American horse were no longer in demand, horse breeders stopped breeding them, McLaughlin said. “That’s the reason they went to the can,” she said. “They weren’t the kind of horses that anybody wanted as saddle horses.”

By 1947, when Theodore Roosevelt National Park was established, the wild horses that once roved over a wide territory in western North Dakota had been greatly diminished. The last of several feral groups found refuge in the Badlands.

“By 1947,” McLaughlin wrote, “their range had become constricted to the inaccessible Badlands surrounding Medora.”

Confined to the park

Several hundred wild horses were roaming Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the early days, most of them strays from ranches in the area. For years, ranchers had grazed livestock on federal land that fell within the new park’s boundaries.

In 1954, local cowboys and ranchers decided to organize an “old-style” roundup to gather the horses, an effort that remains the largest ever at the park.

1954 horse roundup Theodore Roosevelt National Park.jpg
Cowboys participating in the 1954 roundup of wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The roundup was the largest ever at the park. Two years later, in 1956, a boundary fence was completed, leaving uncaptured wild horses and a few ranch strays fenced-in.

The three-day roundup, in late April and early May, received extensive local and national news coverage, including a front-page feature in The New York Times. More than 40 “famous old-time cowboys” participated, including Louis Pelliser , a Medora cowboy who broke horses for $10 a head during World War I, and Hugh Armstrong.

The operation took on a festive air, attracting several hundred spectators despite chilly weather, and featured a dance and an impromptu rodeo. About 125 horses — and several mules — were captured, the vast majority of them branded, of the estimated 200 to 300 horses thought to roam the park’s south unit.

One of the horses captured in the 1954 roundup became a famous rodeo horse. Casey Tibbs, a world champion saddle-bronc rider from Fort Pierre, South Dakota, bought Whiz Bang and took the horse to Japan for bucking demonstrations.

Although the roundup succeeded in gathering most of the stray ranch horses, some crafty wild horses eluded capture.

Crews finished building a boundary fence to enclose the park in 1956, relegating the horses to roam the south unit’s 46,158 acres, which became the enclave for North Dakota’s last remaining wild horses.

Bison, hunted to the brink of extinction in the 1880s, were reintroduced into the fenced park in 1956, and elk would follow in 1985. But the horses had roamed free there all along, at least since the days of Theodore Roosevelt.

The horses now confined to the park would face a formidable threat — for decades to come, the National Park Service’s policy called for eradication of the horses as an unwanted species.

Today, the park service designates the horses as “livestock” and is drafting a plan for managing the herd that considers options ranging from leaving them alone to totally removing them.

Patrick Springer

By Patrick Springer

Patrick Springer first joined The Forum in 1985. He covers a wide range of subjects including health care, energy and population trends. Email address: pspringer@forumcomm.com
Phone: 701-367-5294

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THANK YOU!!!!

We wanted to take a moment to say a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you who took the time to send a comment, letter and/or documentation to Theodore Roosevelt National Park regarding the new management plan they initiated this spring!  TRNP received 1774 pieces of correspondence/comments.  Of those 1774 ~ 1242 were unique!  ALL 50 states were represented with comments as well as 58 comments from the international community!  The park has created a “Civic Engagement Comment Analysis Report” that summarizes their findings during this comment period.  We have added the report to the research section of our website. You can read the full report here:

The purpose of this comment period was to let the park know if there were other analysis that the public felt they should be considering as they moved forward in this process.  We tried to drive home the fact that they were NOT asking for people to pick one of the proposals; they wanted scientific proof of different points that needed to be considered.  From the report: “this was not a vote-counting process, and the emphasis was on the comment’s content rather than the number of times a comment was received.”  We ask that you please keep that in mind for the next public comment period. 

The park stated in the report: “…relevant comments will be used to help refine the proposed alternatives, which will ultimately be analyzed in the EA.”

Even though CHWHA was overlooked in the list of organizations represented in the correspondence, our comments are cited multiple times throughout the report.  We are confident that the park received and read the 15-pound box we sent in with our comment letter and supporting documentation.

We would expect a change to alternatives the park is proposing for the future management of this herd when they return to the planning process in the fall of this year. 

The report shows that there is overwhelming national and international interest and support for the wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home.  The public wants a management plan that is based on current scientific data, a healthy herd that is managed at a number that is genetically viable and honors the historical importance of this herd in recognition of the Park’s foundational purpose. 

We are concerned that the park appears to be set on doing an Environmental Assessment (EA) instead of an Environmental Impact Study (EIS).  Remember, an EA is done when there is little to no impact on the environment.  One citation from CHWHA that TRNP did not include in this report was the one regarding which NEPA regulations DO apply to this process:


From CHWHA Comment Letter: “Although the Council on Environmental Quality revised the regulations implementing NEPA on September 14, 2020, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland has since directed agencies within the Department of Interior, including the National Park Service, to “not apply the 2020 Rule in a manner that would change the application or level of NEPA that would have been applied to a proposed action before the 2020 Rule went into effect on September 14, 2020.” Sec’y of Interior, Secretarial Order No. 3399, Department-Wide Approach to the Climate Crisis and Restoring Transparency and Integrity to the Decision-Making Process § 5(a) (Apr. 16, 2021)”

Last but not least, we would like to say a huge THANK YOU to American Wild Horse Campaign and The Cloud Foundation for submitting comments and helping to raise awareness about this critical management planning process for the wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND home. 

Thank you all again for your support and we will share any updates as we get them!


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.

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Questions from March

You may remember that in March of this year, Theodore Roosevelt National Park invited the public to submit questions regarding the management of the wild horses and their new “Livestock Management Plan”.  Understandably, there was a limit to the questions that could be answered on that Zoom conference.  The park did state that they would answer the questions that they were not able to get to on their website.

Many of you have contacted us because you are as upset as we are that the park still has not answered questions that were submitted almost 4 months ago.

Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates reached out to Superintendent Angie Richman to find out when they would be answering the questions that were submitted as well as for clarification on when the next phase of the management planning process will begin. 

We will update you when we receive an answer.

Things may seem quiet as we wait for this next phase of the management planning process to begin, but please know that Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is always hard at work advocating for these amazing horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home.  Please help support our advocacy work.

Thank you for your support!

Ms. Richman,

We are writing to confirm that the public’s questions which were submitted, but not answered by the Park, during the March 30, 2022 public meeting concerning wild horse management will, in fact, be placed in the administrative record for the Park’s forthcoming management plan.

As I’m sure you are aware, there were several questions submitted by individuals and organizations (including Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates) that the Park did not answer, despite those questions having been properly submitted in accordance with the Park’s instructions for the registration process and in the Zoom link. While we were discouraged that our questions went unanswered during the meeting, we understand there was only so much time in which to address the public’s concerns. As such, we appreciated that Ms. Patterson, one of the Park’s representatives at the meeting, committed to answering our questions after the meeting via the Park’s FAQ page. See Meeting Tr. at 2:17.000-2:26.000 (“If there are additional relevant questions that we aren’t able to get to tonight, the Park Service will answer those questions on the FAQ pages . . . .”).

To date, our highly relevant questions (along with others submitted by the public) have not been answered on the FAQ page or elsewhere. After the meeting, however, the Park updated its website to add the following notice: “Questions and comments submitted through this portal will continue to be answered through updated FAQs, but they will not contribute to the administrative record for management planning.”  

Naturally, we found this notice to be concerning since the questions submitted by Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates during the public meeting are, of course, a part of the “whole record” for this agency action (i.e., the Park’s “Livestock Management Plan”). 5 U.S.C. § 706; see also Boswell Mem. Hosp. v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 788, 792 (D.C. Cir. 1984) (“If a court is to review an agency’s action fairly, it should have before it neither more nor less information than did the agency when it made its decision” because “[t]o review less than the full administrative record might allow a party to withhold evidence unfavorable to its case, and so the APA requires review of the whole record.”).

In the interest of transparency and to obviate any issues regarding the proper scope of the record, we ask that the Park make clear that questions submitted during the public meeting will be included in the administrative record for this matter, even if those questions (and answers thereto) are later posted to the Park’s FAQ page.

As a related matter, we would like to know when the public can expect to receive answers to the questions the Park was unable to address during the meeting. As you know, nearly four months have passed since the meeting, and the Park’s answers to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates questions are necessary for preparing useful comments during the impending public-participation periods for the “Livestock Management Plan.” Thus, we look forward to the Park making good on its commitment to provide “answer[s] [to] those questions on the FAQ pages.” See Meeting Tr. at 2:17.000-2:26.000.

Finally, we would also appreciate some clarification about the Park’s timeline for the public-participation periods in this matter. According to the Park’s FAQ page, “[p]ublic scoping is planned for summer 2022”; however, the Park’s planning portal indicates that the public scoping period is “anticipated for the Fall of 2022.” We understand there are several considerations that bear on the timing of this process, but any additional information you may be able to provide regarding the estimated timeline would be much appreciated.  

Thank you in advance for your time and attention to these matters. We continue to appreciate the opportunity to work with the Park on this important matter, and look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Christine Kman
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates


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.

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Our FOIA Request

2021 Filly Starlet

What is a FOIA request?

From FOIA.gov:


What is FOIA?

Since 1967, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has provided the public the right to request access to records from any federal agency. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government. Federal agencies are required to disclose any information requested under the FOIA unless it falls under one of nine exemptions which protect interests such as personal privacy, national security, and law enforcement.

The FOIA also requires agencies to proactively post online certain categories of information, including frequently requested records. As Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court have all recognized, the FOIA is a vital part of our democracy.

As many of you know, we submitted a FOIA request to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  I will share some highlights from our lawyers last letter to the FOIA Appeals Office on how our request is being handled:

“On November 30, 2021, Advocates submitted a FOIA request to the Department of
Interior seeking various records related to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s (“TRNP’s”) management of wild horses within the boundaries of the Park. Specifically, the Request sought:


(1) Any and all records formally designating wild horses residing on the TRNP as “livestock” or “livestock display,” as required by [the National Park Service’s (“NPS’s”)] implementing regulations. See 36 C.F.R. § 2.60(a)(3) (“The running-at-large, herding, driving across, allowing on, pasturing or grazing of livestock of any kind in a park area or the use of a park area for agricultural purposes is prohibited, except . . . “[a]s designated, when conducted as a necessary and integral part of a recreational activity or required in order to maintain a historic scene.” (emphasis added));

(2) Any and all records, including surveys, regarding how NPS determines that an excess number of horses exist on the TRNP such that roundups and removals of those horses are necessary;

Please note: There were 8 points of items we asked for.  We are only sharing the first two as examples of our requests as sharing all 8 would make this already long post even more lengthy.

On January 3, 2022 (i.e., twenty working days after the request was submitted), DOI had yet to acknowledge Advocates’ request. Consequently, Advocates wrote to DOI’s FOIA office to request acknowledgement and a date-certain by which responsive disclosures would begin. That same day, Advocates received a letter from DOI seeking “clarification” of the request. There, DOI claimed that it was unable to process Advocates’ request because it could not “determine the exact time period” for the requested records. Thus, DOI asked that Advocates “specify a time frame or duration of time” in which DOI should search for responsive records. DOI’s clarification request did not identify any other deficiencies in the request.

Advocates provided the requested clarifications by letter dated January 13, 2022. In addition to specifying date ranges for each category of the request, Advocates also identified specific examples of documents within the ambit of certain request categories.

On January 31, 2022, DOI made its first and only disclosure, which consisted of “103 pages of responsive material” in a single consolidated file. Although DOI claimed that Advocates’ request was “granted in full,” most of the disclosed records were already publicly available and do not respond to several categories in the request. Notably, DOI did not disclose any of the specific documents identified in Advocates’ January 13 clarification letter, nor did DOI provide any explanation as to why those documents were not produced.

On February 11, 2022, DOI issued a two-page “clarification” to its final response. That clarification, however, concerned only two of the categories in Advocates’ Request: category two (i.e., records related to removing wild horses from the TRNP) and category seven (i.e., records related to the historical importance of the TRNP herds, including specific documents identified in Advocates’ January 13 letter to DOI).

Because Advocates has a strong basis to believe that responsive, non-exempt information has been improperly withheld by DOI, it appealed DOI’s final response on April 5, 2022. In relevant part, Advocates’ appeal asserts that DOI’s withholding of information responsive to category seven as “personal notes” not subject to FOIA is baseless, and that the agency improperly construed other portions of Advocates’ request and/or failed to conduct an adequate search for responsive information.

However, by May 18, 2022—i.e., 30 working days after filing its FOIA appeal—DOI had not even acknowledge Advocates’ appeal, let alone issued a final determination. In an effort to resolve DOI’s continued withholding of responsive, non-exempt records, Advocates wrote to your office that day seeking acknowledgment of their appeal and a date certain by which a decision would be issued. That letter, too, went unacknowledged and unanswered. To date, i.e., more than 56 working days after their appeal was filed, Advocates still has not received any acknowledgment of its appeal.

FOIA provides that each agency “shall . . . make a determination with respect to any appeal within twenty days (excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) after the receipt of such appeal.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(ii) (emphases added). Likewise, DOI’s own regulations provide that “[t]he basic time limit for responding to an appeal is 20 workdays after receipt,” and if the agency cannot meet that deadline, it will notify the requester of its right to seek judicial review. 43 C.F.R. § 2.62.

As explained, DOI’s twenty-working-day response window has long since passed without even so much as an acknowledgment by the agency. DOI (and NPS’s) delay here is particularly troubling because the requested records relate to an ongoing management planning process for wild horses. See NPS, Livestock Management Plan Newsletter at 6 (March 16, 2022), https://bit.ly/3bFnQzO. Indeed, the public scoping period for that plan is scheduled “for summer 2022.” See Frequently Asked Questions About Horses, NAT’L PARK SERV., https://bit.ly/3bCZt5q (last visited June 28, 2022). Accordingly, the TRNP’s initially incomplete disclosure and DOI’s continued withholding of documents that would assist Advocates and the public in preparing their comments is concerning.

Although some may find the withholding here suspicious under the circumstances, Advocates continues to believe that a non-adversarial resolution is possible. Still, the records requested here remain extremely important to Advocates, especially considering their relevance to TRNP’s ongoing planning process; if necessary, Advocates remains willing to avail itself of all available options for compelling DOI’s compliance with federal law—up to and including litigation. Advocates would prefer, however, to avoid time-consuming and expensive litigation over DOI’s repeated failures to heed statutory deadlines. Thus, in the interest of resolving this matter without judicial intervention, Advocates formally requests that DOI act on its appeal promptly and, in the meantime, provide them with a date certain by which they can expect that decision.

We appreciate your immediate attention this matter. Should you have any questions this appeal, please do not hesitate to contact our firm.

As you can see, our lawyers at Eubanks and Associates are very methodical and clearly understand our rights under the Freedom of Information Act.  Quite simply: we have a right to the information we are asking for.  We believe the information we are requesting will be important to have when the park comes back to the management planning process this summer. 

As our lawyers stated, we do have the option to litigate over this FOIA request if Theodore Roosevelt National Park continues to ignore our correspondence on this matter. 

You can imagine that litigation will be costly.  The cost of having the wild horse herd of approximately 190 horses reduced to a total herd size of 30-60 horses or 15-30 gelded behind a fence, will come at an enormous expense that will be paid for by future generations that do not get to see these amazing wild horses the same way we do today. 

We hope that you will continue to support our advocacy work.  There are several ways that you can help listed on our website https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support!

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What’s Going On?

We know it has been quiet here lately, but we wanted to let you know that Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates (CHWHA) continues to advocate for the wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) in Medora, ND home!  While we are grateful for the Park FINALLY initiating a wild horse management plan, there are still other areas that CHWHA is actively advocating for with respect to the amazing wild horses that call TRNP home!

We are still working with Congress to try to get a public law passed that will protect these horses in a similar fashion to the way the Shackelford Banks wild horses are protected.

The park has also stated that in the fall of this year, the next public comment period for the wild horse management plan will be opened. 

To help prepare for all these aspects of our advocacy work, we submitted a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request earlier this year. 

Then we filed an appeal for the records that were not given to us under FOIA laws.

Then we waited past the 20 day response time for the information we requested.

Now, our legal team at Eubanks and Associates is contacting the FOIA Appeals Office to see why we have not had a response in the allotted time.

We hope this help you see that we are always working in some capacity to help protect EVERY wild horse that calls TRNP home!

Please consider making a donation to help support our advocacy work!  There are several ways you can help listed on our website: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support and our lawyers letter to the FOIA appeals office is posted here for you to see WHY we need Eubanks and Associates working with us to make sure we establish protection for these amazing wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home!

FOIA/Privacy Act Appeals Office
U.S Department of the Interior
Office of the Solicitor
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
FOIA.Appeals@sol.doi.gov
Re: Administrative Appeal of the U.S. Department of Interior’s Response to Freedom of Information Act Request No. DOI-NPS-2022-000890

Dear FOIA Appeals Officer,

We are writing on behalf of our client, Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates (“Advocates”), to notify your office that Advocates has yet to receive any response to their April5, 2022 Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) appeal in relation to Advocates’ request, DOI-NPS-2022-000890. The lack of response from the Department of Interior (“DOI”) violates the twenty-day deadline prescribed under FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(ii), and the agency’s own regulations, 43 C.F.R. § 2.62. Advocates is therefore requesting a date certain by which it can expect to receive a determination in response to its appeal.

On November 30, 2021, Advocates submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Interior seeking various records related to TRNP’s management of wild horses within the boundaries of the Park.

On January 3, 2022 (i.e., twenty working days after the request was submitted), DOI had yet to acknowledge Advocates’ request. Consequently, Advocates wrote to DOI’s FOIA office to request acknowledgement and a date-certain by which responsive disclosures would begin.

That same day, Advocates received a letter from DOI seeking “clarification” of the request. There, DOI claimed that it was unable to process Advocates’ request because it could not “determine the exact time period” for the requested records. Thus, DOI asked that Advocates “specify a time frame or duration of time” in which DOI should search for responsive records.

DOI’s clarification request did not identify any other deficiencies in the request. Advocates provided the requested clarifications by letter dated January 13, 2022. In addition to specifying date ranges for each category of the request, Advocates also identified specific examples of documents within the ambit of certain categories of records sought in the FOIA request.

On January 31, 2022, DOI made its first and only disclosure, which consisted of “103 pages of responsive material” in a single consolidated file. Although DOI claimed that Advocates’ request was “granted in full,” most of the disclosed records were already publicly available and do not respond to several categories in the request. Notably, DOI did not disclose any of the specific documents identified in Advocates’ January 13 clarification letter, nor did DOI provide any explanation as to why those documents were not produced.

On February 11, 2022, DOI issued a two-page “clarification” to its final response. That clarification, however, concerned only two of the categories in Advocates’ Request: category two (i.e., records related to removing wild horses from the TRNP) and category seven (i.e., records related to the historical importance of the TRNP herds, including specific documents identified in Advocates’ January 13 letter to DOI). As to the former, DOI claimed that “there are no NPS records responsive to the removal of horses from the park.” With respect to category seven, DOI stated that “personal notes are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act; thus there are no NPS records responsive to this section of your request.” DOI’s clarification letter does not explain why it chose to characterize information responsive to request category seven as “personal notes,” nor does it identify any statutory exemption to support its withholding.

Because Advocates has a strong basis to believe that responsive, non-exempt information has been improperly withheld by DOI, it appealed DOI’s final response on April 5, 2022. In relevant part, Advocates’ appeal asserts that DOI’s withholding of information responsive to category seven as “personal notes” not subject to FOIA is baseless, and that the agency improperly construed other portions of Advocates’ request and/or failed to conduct an adequate search for responsive information. To date, however, Advocates has not even received an official acknowledgment of its appeal, let alone a final determination.1

As DOI is well aware, FOIA provides that each agency “shall . . . make a determination with respect to any appeal within twenty days (excepting Saturdays, Sundays, and legal public holidays) after the receipt of such appeal.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(ii) (emphases added); see also id. § 552(a)(7)(B)(ii) (requiring agencies to make available “an estimated date on which the agency will complete action on the request”). Likewise, DOI’s own regulations provide that “[t]he basic time limit for responding to an appeal is 20 workdays after receipt,” and if the agency cannot meet that deadline, it will notify the requester of its right to seek judicial review. 43 C.F.R. § 2.62.

DOI’s twenty-working-day response window has now lapsed without any acknowledgment by the agency of Advocates’ appeal, or any timeframe in which Advocates can expect a decision. As such, Advocates is currently contemplating all available options for compelling DOI’s compliance with federal law—up to and including litigation. Of course, Advocates would prefer to avoid time-consuming and expensive litigation over DOI’s failure to heed a statutory deadline. Thus, in the interest of preventing costly litigation, Advocates formally requests that DOI act on its appeal promptly and, in the meantime, provide them with a date certain by which they can expect that decision. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(7)(B)(ii).

1 Although Angela Richman, the Superintendent of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, acknowledged receiving Advocates’ FOIA appeal via email on April 12, 2022, Advocates has yet to receive any such acknowledgment from one of DOI’s FOIA Appeals Officers.

We appreciate your immediate attention this matter. Should you have any questions this appeal, please do not hesitate to contact our firm. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the best means of promptly contacting our firm is through my email (matt@eubankslegal.com).

Respectfully,

Matthew R. Arnold
EUBANKS & ASSOCIATES, PLLC


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.

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Research Library

Have you checked out the Research Library section of our website?  https://chwha.org/library/ We are constantly updating this section of our website as new articles and information come to us.  We just added a couple of new articles again today!

We have been collecting information, articles, videos for about 6 years now.  If you have information that you would either like to see included in this section, please send us an email at info@chwha.org and we will try to get it added to our website.  Also, if you have information that you would like to submit to us for us to include on our website, you can contact us for that at the email address above as well.

Please keep in mind that many of the articles in this section of our website can be used when Theodore Roosevelt National Park is expected to come back in the fall of 2022 to start the scoping aspect of the wild horse management plan that they have initiated this year.  The comment period we just went through was changed from a “scoping period” to an “information gathering period” – which is GOOD! It gives the public an additional comment period!  This entire process is expected to take 1-3 years.  TRNP has said 1 year, our legal team and advocate friends believe that will be closer to 2-3 years to fully complete.  Please continue to watch our website for updates as the Park releases information about this very critical wild horse management plan!

Our work at CHWHA does not stop with the wild horse management plan! One of the things we are also working on is our work with other wild horse advocates and members of congress to get the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park protected under public law, similar to the way that the Shackleford Banks wild horses are protected under Public Law 105-229.  Stay tuned for more information as we get it as well as calls to action when the time comes for that!

We have also sent TRNP an appeal to our FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.  We feel that information we are seeking through this FOIA appeal will be important during this wild horse management plan process.

Those are just two of several projects we are currently working on in our advocacy work for the wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND home.

Much of the work we are doing is being done by us working with Eubanks and Associates, ESPECIALLY when it comes to the new wild horse management plan.

 Please consider making a donation to help us continue to advocate for ALL of the wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND home!  There are several ways you can help listed on our website: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support and have a great day!


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.

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This Learning Curve!

Colt Creed

We have to make a correction to something that we said that was not true. 

As we mentioned before, one of our wild horse advocate friends made note of the steep learning curve we have been on.  We are learning, that is for sure!

While we were talking to our lawyer today, he mentioned our blog post about the documentation that we sent into the park with our comment letter.  We had to find supporting documentation for the points we requested the park consider new analyses for the new wild horse management plan.  We thought that they would only be looking at what we sent in and noted in our comment letter. 

We were WRONG!

Our lawyer said when people ask if they have to read ALL of that documentation or if we expect them to – your answer is “DAMN STRAIGHT they do!” 

He said that every word of each piece of documentation that we submitted has to be considered for its scientific significance for the future wild horse management plan.

We have said it before and we will say it again, NONE of the organizations that advocate for these horses has EVER been through this process – including Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates.  THIS is EXACTLY why we feel the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park deserve to have Eubanks and Associates working for them to make sure they get the BEST possible management plan! 

We are asking that you please help us make sure that we can have Eubanks and Associates with us every step of the way by making a donation to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates.  There are several ways you can donate to us listed on our website here: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support!  Together WE ARE making a difference!


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.

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Happy Earth Day – 2022!!!

2022 Colt Titan (Teepee x Teton)

What a PERFECT way to celebrate Earth Day!

Our friends at American Wild Horse Campaign were featured in today’s Bismarck Tribune OP-ED! You can read the entire article here:

This may seem “late” to some of you.  Let us reassure you – IT IS NOT!  This is a wonderful reminder that this is NOT a time to become complacent with our advocacy efforts for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  This is the BEGINNING of a very critical process that will dictate the management of these horses for years to come!  They need your voice now more than ever! https://bismarcktribune.com/opinion/letters/letter-preserve-wild-horses-in-theodore-roosevelt-national-park/article_587e8d56-bcf4-11ec-bd83-2badd2c46034.html

Earth Day is a day set aside to support environmental protection.  Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is dedicated to celebrating Earth Day EVERY DAY as we continue to advocate EVERY SINGLE DAY for the wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home.  We are grateful to our friends at American Wild Horse Campaign and The Cloud Foundation, as well as all of you, for your continued support! 

For your convenience, we have pasted the article below:

Letter: Preserve wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt was a champion of wilderness and a big fan of horses. Our nation’s 26th president was a Rough Rider, after all. And he kept numerous horses in the White House stables while in office.

Given that, it’s hard to imagine that Theodore Roosevelt wouldn’t be shaking his head over plans to decimate the already tiny population of wild horses in the national park that bears his name. We should be shaking our heads, too.

Currently, just 180 wild horses roam the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. But the National Park Service is considering plans that could bring that number down to an unsustainable 35 to 60 horses, or eliminate the herd entirely. We should not let this happen.

The American Wild Horse Campaign urges the NPS to set a minimum herd size of 150 horses to ensure a genetically viable herd, as recommended by Dr. Gus Cothran, an equine geneticist, for all wild horse herds in the United States.

If “new blood” needs to be brought into the herd, the NPS should introduce horses that are historically significant to the TRNP and prioritize the Nokota horses. A 2018 study from Texas A&M found that the historic herd is at risk of inbreeding and recommended introducing new mares and changing removal strategies to preserve genetics and lineages.

Given concerns about its potential for permanent sterilization and injection site abscesses, the NPS must eliminate the use of GonaCon for the fertility control program. When administering any fertility control program, the NPS must consider the herd’s genetics and bloodlines as well as the safety of mares. Instead of GonaCon, the NPS should implement a fertility control program using the PZP vaccine, which has been proven to be reversible and safe for the mare.

If removal of horses needs to take place, NPS should use science and genetics to determine what horses will be removed. However, a successful fertility control program should mean that there is no need from removals.

The NPS also should change the designation of the Theodore Roosevelt horses from “livestock” to “wildlife.” The NPS has never explained why they’re designated as livestock and doesn’t acknowledge paleontological evidence and mitochondrial DNA analysis supporting the fact that wild horses are a reintroduced native species to this continent.

The Theodore Roosevelt wild horses are a significant part of the historical and natural heritage of the park and the state. Equally important, they’re a huge tourism draw for North Dakota. Let’s honor them, and the park’s namesake, by protecting and preserving them for future generations.


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.

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TRNP Wild Horse Portal FAQ Updated

Theodore Roosevelt National Park updated its Frequently Asked Questions page recently!  You can check out the questions and answers here: https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/frequently-asked-questions-about-horses.htm

During the Zoom Civic Meeting on March 30th, the Park said that they would be continuing to answer questions through the wild horse portal as well as posting questions that were asked during the Zoom meeting, as well as the questions that they did not get to answer during the meeting.

If you have questions that you would like answered, feel free to submit them here: https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/feral-wild-horses.htm

We have several that we have submitted BEFORE and DURING the Zoom conference as well as through this portal that we are still waiting for answers to. 

Please continue to share your submitted questions and comments with us!  It helps us when we will be formulating our letter for the next public comment period to make sure we address your concerns!

Thank you for your support!


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.

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What’s next?

THANK YOU to everyone who submitted comments to Theodore Roosevelt National Park for the new wild horse management plan.  Thank you to everyone who shared their comments to us!  The Park has a lot to consider for sure!

Sooo…..What’s next?

Since the Park changed this process from the original “scoping” period to an “information gathering session” they will be looking at the comments that were submitted and we would assume they will be drafting new analysis that they will move forward to either the Environmental Impact Statement or the Environmental Assessment that they are required to do under NEPA Policy.  There will be another public comment period BEFORE they begin that process.  We would expect that process to begin some time soon.  Once they have decided on which analysis they will be moving forward with, the NEPA process will take quite a while to complete.  This entire process is expected to take 1-3 years.  During that time, we will have one additional public comment period (in addition to the one that just ended and the one that will be coming soon) – for a total of 3 public comment periods.  These public comment periods are EXTREMELY important, so please make sure you are sharing your comments with the Park whenever we are given the opportunity throughout this process.

Just because this portion of the management planning process is complete, DOES NOT mean that Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates will hit the pause button on our advocacy work. 

We have several things we are working on, including:     

  • Our FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) appeal.  Information that we are trying to get through this process WILL help with this management planning process and is EXTREMELY important! 
  • We are working with members of Congress to get the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park protected under their own public law – similar to the Shackleford Banks wild horses at Cape Lookout National Seashore.
  • Several other projects that we are working on both independently and with our legal team that we hope to be able to share with you soon – all benefit every single wild horse in Theodore Roosevelt National Park!

We still need your help!  Our current legal fees are sitting at around $9,900!  We have been able to raise some of that with your support, but we need to make sure that we have Eubanks and Associates working with us through every step of this process!  As a 501 (c)3 organization, your donation is 100% tax deductible.  There are several ways that you can support us listed on our website here: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you again for your support and we will keep you updated here on when the next public comment period begins as well as any other news we hear regarding the future management of the wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND home. 

TOGETHER WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!!!


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.

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LAST Day for You to Submit Your Comments!

TODAY is the LAST day for you to submit your comments to Theodore Roosevelt National Park for the new wild horse management plan!

We hope that all of you have submitted your comments!  We asked and were granted an extension on the deadline for submitting comments for this phase of the public comment period! We knew this was important given our extreme weather last week.  ALL comments now either need to be uploaded to the website here TODAY: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270

Or have to be POSTMARKED TODAY if you are mailing them in!

Our full comment letter can be viewed in the library section of our website or by clicking here:

American Wild Horse Campaign and the Cloud Foundation have also shared sample comments that you can use to personalize your comment. We discussed them in several blog posts but you can find them here: https://chwha.org/2022/04/14/new-comment-deadline-april-18th-what-you-need-to-know/

We are excited for this process!  As you know, this is something we have been working toward long before Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates was born!  We have always been against the senseless culling of this herd that takes all of the young horses and appears to many of our followers the Park has been working to gradually eradicate this herd!  Their presentation of draft concepts for the initiation of the management plan has only reassured that assumption.

We are also relieved to have an experienced legal team like Eubanks and Associates working with us.  We NEED them to help through this ENTIRE process! We need your help and support to ensure that can happen!  Our current legal bills are approximately $9,900.00!!!  We have 30 days to raise that money and pay our invoice!  We have some of it but need your help to make sure we can continue have them working with us to make sure the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park get the best management plan possible!  If you look at the 1978 EA – it is easy to see WHY we need them working with us throughout this entire process!

There are several ways you can help us listed on our website: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support!!  TOGETHER – WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!!


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.

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Will They Actually Read That?

A lot of you have asked if the Park will actually read through the 12 lb package we sent them.

They have to read our comment letter – AND YES! They do have to read the supporting documentation! Every page of it now counts as part of our official comment.

We hope that all of you have submitted your comments!  We asked and were granted an extension on the deadline for submitting comments for this phase of the public comment period! We knew this was important given our extreme weather this week.  ALL comments now either need to be uploaded to the website here by April 18th: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270

Or have to be POSTMARKED by April 18th if you are mailing them in!

Our full comment letter can be viewed in the library section of our website or by clicking here:

American Wild Horse Campaign and the Cloud Foundation have also shared sample comments that you can use to personalize your comment. We discussed them in several blog posts but you can find them here: https://chwha.org/2022/04/14/new-comment-deadline-april-18th-what-you-need-to-know/

We hope you understand why we have not been out “Chasing Horses” as much lately.  The initiation of this wild horse management plan is the most important thing that has happened to these horses for at least the last 44 years.  It SHOULD be what EVERYONE who advocates for these horses is talking about.  Decisions made through this process will impact this herd for years to come!  Their last Environmental Assessment (EA) was done in 1978!!!! Pretty pictures of the horses and new babies don’t mean anything if the park succeeds in taking the current herd of 190 horses down to 30-70 or 15-30 in the other option that puts them behind a fence as a nonreproductive herd! 

We are also relieved to have an experienced legal team like Eubanks and Associates working with us.  We NEED them to help through this ENTIRE process! We need your help and support to ensure that can happen!  Our current legal bills are approximately $9,900.00!!!  We have 30 days to raise that money and pay our invoice!  We have some of it but need your help to make sure we can continue have them working with us to make sure the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park get the best management plan possible!  If you look at the 1978 EA – it is easy to see WHY we need them working with us throughout this entire process!

There are several ways you can help us listed on our website: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support!!  TOGETHER – WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!!


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.

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CHWHA Comment Letter

We have FINALLY finished our comment letter for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park Wild Horse Management Plan that has been initiated by the Park. You can view it here, and we have also added it to the library section of our website.

You can see that this letter is detailed and encompasses years of research that we have done.  Our lawyers have looked it over and have given us the green light to send it off.  It will be postmarked tomorrow and sent in with over 1,000 pages of supporting documentation. 

Please feel free to use any of this to help you form your own personal comments.  Remember, Superintendent Richman stated today that you can add links for your supporting documentation. https://chwha.org/2022/04/14/new-comment-deadline-april-18th-what-you-need-to-know/ FYI – links to government documents, i.e. The Organic Act etc., do NOT have to be submitted in any form.  It is understood that as  a federal agency, they have access to these files. You can submit your comments here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270

PLEASE make sure you comment by April 18th!!!! We felt with the historic blizzard that is STILL crippling our state, an extension was warranted! The Park agreed! You have until April 18th to submit your comments online or have them POSTMARKED!

We hope this also helps you see what has kept us so busy these last few weeks!  This week was all about going over points with our legal team, tightening up this letter and getting it ready to be submitted.

We also hope this helps you see WHY we need Eubanks and Associates working with us every step of the way through this management planning process.  Please consider making a donation to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates to help support our advocacy work for the wild horses that call TRNP home. There are several ways you can help us listed on our website: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support! TOGETHER WE ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE!!!!!


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.

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NEW Comment Deadline – April 18th – What you need to know

NEW Comment Deadline – April 18th – What you need to know

We are STILL in the midst of a massive and historic April blizzard that has crippled most of our state!  News reporters have stated that they never remember seeing this many road closures in a long time.  Because of this, yesterday we asked Theodore Roosevelt National Park for an extension on the comment period for the management planning process.  We know that there are many people and organizations that are sending in comments with supporting documentation through the US Postal Service and we know those will be delayed for sure.  Shortly after my email, Superintendent Richman responded stating that they will extend this public comment period to MONDAY APRIL 18th.  This means that you have until midnight (MST) on April 18th to either submit your comments to the planning portal or to have your comments POSTMARKED.  Comments can be submitted online here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270

We also brought to Superintendent Richman’s attention that there is no way to upload documents on the planning portal.  She responded to us this morning:

Chris,

My apologies, you are right. I was told that you could upload one document, but that is incorrect. You could copy and paste the content of the document in your comment or mail in the attachments.

Also, if your documents are available online, you can put the link in your comment. Others have done that as well and it is a great way for us to include documents in our bibliography. 

Again, thank you for your interest in Theodore Roosevelt NP and I hope you are staying safe with this weather.

Angie Richman

Superintendent

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Medora, ND 58645

Office: 701-623-4730 ext: 1409

435-210-4071 (cell)

Here are some important points for you as we come to the close of this comment period:

  • Comment period is extended to April 18th – mailed documents MUST be POSTMARKED by April 18th to be considered
  • You can use links to submit supporting documentation to the park.  There is a TON of scientific resources in the library section of our website. You can view our entire Library here: https://chwha.org/library/
  • American Wild Horse Campaign has issued an ACTION ALERT with a sample comment letter that you can personalize for this planning process.  You can find that here: https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/media/act-now-national-park-service-targets-north-dakotas-wild-horse-herd
  • The Cloud Foundation has issued this sample comment letter that you can personalize here: https://chwha.org/2022/04/12/thank-you/
  • From the planning portal: Following the close of this pre-NEPA comment period, the National Park Service will update alternatives based on public input – THIS MEANS  TELL THEM WHAT YOU WANT SO THEY CAN UPDATE THEIR PROPOSED ALTERNATIVES ACCORDINGLY!!!!

Thank you to everyone who has emailed or PM’d us with questions or asking for clarification.  We are happy to help are excited to have so many people reaching out to help the amazing wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

We CANNOT and WILL NOT engage in questions that ask us why the other organizations are not sharing important information on their pages about this critical time for the TRNP horses.  We are not affiliated with either of them and neither of them are working with us and our legal team to make sure these horses get the best management plan possible.  We cannot say this enough, any questions you have about why they are or are not doing certain things need to be addressed to them personally.  Each group is welcome to advocate in whatever ways they choose.  CHWHA was born out of the need for an organization to speak up for EVERY horse in TRNP and not support whatever decisions the park made.  Work on our comment letter for this part of the process has been extremely time consuming.  We will be sharing that later today and believe that you will see why we simply have not had the time to monitor anyone else’s pages outside of our own.

Thank you for your support!


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.

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EXTENSION GRANTED!!!

THANK YOU to everyone who sent in emails requesting an extension to the April 15th deadline! That request has been GRANTED!!!

PLEASE SEE Superintendent Richman’s email response below.

PLEASE NOTE FROM HER RESPONSE: YOUR DOCUMENT NOW MUST BE POSTMARKED BY APRIL 18TH!!!!

THANK YOU AGAIN!!! Together WE ARE making a difference!

Dear Chris,

I have received your request for an extension to the comment period for our Livestock Management Plan newsletter that was released to the public on March 16th. The comment period was also open on March 16th and scheduled to run through April 15th. Since we are still in the pre-NEPA phase of this project, I believe the 30-day comment period provided an adequate amount of time for public involvement and comment. However, given the current weather conditions in North Dakota, I have decided to extend the comment period through Monday, April 18th for those that weren’t able to get their comments to the post office by April 15th due to the inclement weather. Any mailed comment that is postmarked by the 18th will be included.

The online comment page will also be open through Monday the 18th. You can still access the online comment submission form and are able to upload one document per comment there as well. And as a reminder, here is the link to the online comment page: 
https://parkplanning.nps.gov/documentsOpenForReview.cfm?projectID=105110&parkID=167

Please understand that this is just the first of three comment periods. You will have two more opportunities to provide feedback as we work through this planning process. We now have your email addresses and have added you to the mailing list for all future notifications.

We appreciate your interest in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and will look forward to hearing from you throughout this process.

Sincerely,

Angie Richman

Superintendent

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Medora, ND 58645

Office: 701-623-4730 ext: 1409435-210-4071 (cell)

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. ~ Theodore Roosevelt



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.

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Comment Extension NEEDED!!!!

Have you sent your comment into Theodore Roosevelt National Park yet?

THIS FRIDAY April 15th is the last day to submit comments!  Please note! IF you are sending in supporting documentation, the ONLY way you are able to do that is through regular mail as there is NO upload button on the planning website! AND – we are in the midst of an HISTORIC APRIL BLIZZARD!  We sent the following email to the park – please feel free to do the same!  Mail will DEFINITELY be delayed! 

Superintendent Richman,

We are writing to request that Theodore Roosevelt National Park provide a modest extension for the ongoing comment period from (April 15, 2022 to April 22, 2022) to accommodate public comments delayed by the historic blizzard we are experiencing here in western North Dakota. 

As you are aware, the ongoing blizzard has forced the closure of the Park itself, as well as major interstates and roadways throughout the state. Post-blizzard snow removal to reopen roads here in North Dakota is likely to continue through the weekend. As you are also aware, the Park’s March 2022 newsletter/scoping notice states that comments will not “be considered” without “justification or supporting data.” The Park’s online comment-submission portal, however, does not allow the public to attach those documents that contain the “supporting data” required by the Park. Further, the Park has stated that it will not accept comments and supporting documentation via email. As such, the only method of submitting comments to the Park with supporting documentation is through the US Postal Service. Yet, the current winter storm, which is not expected to end until sometime late Thursday (April 14, 2022), has halted travel throughout the state. That would include any truck deliveries, including, specifically, mail trucks carrying public comments and documentation. 

Thus, to accommodate unforeseen delays, and to ensure the Park receives and is able to benefit from meaningful public comments during this phase of the planning process, we request that the Park extend the ongoing comment period by one week (i.e., to April 22, 2022)

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. 

The email above can be sent to the following:

Superintendent Angie Richman – Angie_Richman@nps.gov
Blake McCann – Blake_McCann@nps.gov
Maureen McGee-Ballinger – Maureen_McGee-Ballinger@nps.gov
Regional Director, Herbert Frost – Bert_Frost@nps.gov
EMPSi contact -Katie Patterson – katie.patterson@empsi.com

PLEASE NOTE FROM THE PARK’S PLANNING WEBSITE:

“The National Park Service is developing a Livestock Management Plan and Environmental Assessment (EA) to assess options for managing horse and longhorn cattle herds in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The plan is currently in the pre-National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) phase. In this phase, the National Park Service is soliciting input from the public on ideas for consideration in the Livestock Management Plan and identifying areas of concern. Input is being solicited through April 15, 2022.

Following the close of this pre-NEPA comment period, the National Park Service will update alternatives based on public input.

PLEASE DO NOT “VOTE” FOR DRAFT COMMENTS YOU DO NOT AGREE TO!!!  30-70 horses is NOT enough for a viable herd!!!  SCIENCE says 150-200 is needed!  There are approximately 190 horses in the park now – simply put if you do not want to see that number reduced to 30-70, then TELL THE PARK THAT!!!

WE NEED THE PARK TO UPDATE THE ALTERNATIVES THEY ARE CONSIDERING FOR THE WILD HORSES OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK!!!!

We have several posts on the website that share sample comment letters from both American Wild Horse Campaign AND The Cloud Foundation.  Please feel free to personalize those for your comment! YOU CAN COMMENT MORE THAN ONCE!!

You can send in your comments here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270

We will be sharing our comment letter later today so be sure to check back!

Thank you for your support!


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.

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THANK YOU!!!

To those of you who wrote to Theodore Roosevelt National Park asking for the recording and transcript of the March 30th Civic Meeting – it is NOW available to view here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/documentsList.cfm?projectID=105110

Thank you to everyone who wrote to the park and asked that this be made available so that the public could properly comment on the proposed wild horse management plan by April 15th!

Please make sure you get your comments in! You can submit them here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270

BOTH American Wild Horse Campaign and The Cloud Foundation have given sample comments that you can personalize to submit!  We have listed them below.  You CAN comment more than once – so if this sparks a new concern(s) for you, please comment again!  This comment period ends on April 15th!

From American Wild Horse Campaign:

To Whom It May Concern:

Please accept the following comments on the Scoping Notice for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s (TRNP) Livestock Management Plan (LMP) for its wild horses and longhorn cattle.

While the National Park Service (NPS) is preparing the LMP, it must stop all roundups and removals of the horses and the use of fertility control. 

Additionally, an Environmental Analysis (EA) should consider and analyze the following alternatives:

  • Change the designation of the Theodore Roosevelt horses from “livestock” to “wildlife.” The NPS has never explained why they’re designated as livestock and doesn’t acknowledge paleontological evidence and mitochondrial DNA analysis supporting the fact that wild horses are a reintroduced native species to this continent.
  • Set a minimum herd size of 150 horses to ensure a genetically viable herd, as recommended by  Dr. Gus Cothran, an equine geneticist, for all wild horse herds in the United States.
  • If “new blood” needs to be brought into the herd, introduce horses who are historically significant to the TRNP and prioritize the Nokota horses.  A 2018 study from Texas A&M found that the historic herd is at risk of inbreeding and recommended introducing new mares and changing removal strategies to preserve genetics and lineages.
  • Given concerns about its potential for permanent sterilization and injection site abscesses, eliminate the use of GonaCon for the fertility control program. When administering any fertility control program, the NPS must consider the herd’s genetics and bloodlines as well as the safety of mares.  Instead of GonaCon, the NPS should implement a fertility control program using PZP that has been proven to be reversible and safe for the mare.
  • If removal of horses needs to take place, use science and genetics to determine what horses will be removed.  However, a successful fertility control program should mean that there is no need from removals. 

Further, instead of selling captured horses via the General Services Administration Online Auctions website, the NPS must develop an adoption program that screens potential adopters and includes a contract with facility and care requirements and a prohibition on the sale of horses for slaughter.

Finally, due to the controversial nature of the LMP and the myriad of legal, environmental, economic, and social issues it raises, an Environmental Impact Statement is required. 

Thank you for your consideration.

From The Cloud Foundation:

Tell the Park Service the following (in your own words) —

– Preserving wild horses MUST be a cornerstone of the Park’s livestock management plan since they contributed to President Teddy Roosevelt’s wonder at the natural world, leading to his creation of the very first national parks.

– Horses have lived “wild” in TRNP for generations and millions of Park visitors cherish these animals as an integral part of the cultural heritage of the Badlands.

– These horses must be managed to preserve natural behaviors just as Teddy Roosevelt would have experienced. He would have seen stallions protecting their families, foals with their mothers and aunties and the entire repertoire of natural “wild” horse behaviors.

– To protect the genetic health of the herd, the minimum population should be 150 or more. By allowing the horses to use additional areas of the Park, the herd can and should be managed at a higher minimum population level.

Your voice makes a difference.  Please submit your comments directly to the Park Service by clicking below. https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270


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.

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Thank you to The Cloud Foundation!!

A HUGE THANK YOU TO THE CLOUD FOUNDATION FOR SENDING OUT THIS EMAIL TO HELP OUR BELOVED WILD HORSES AT THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK IN MEDORA, ND!!!

You have until April 15th to submit your comments! The Cloud Foundation AND American Wild Horse Campaign BOTH have given GREAT comments to submit to the park! You can view AWHC’s here: https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/media/act-now-national-park-service-targets-north-dakotas-wild-horse-herd

From the Cloud Foundation:

Hundreds of wild horses in Teddy Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) need your voice to ensure they continue to live wild and free. This Park, located in the Badlands of North Dakota, is dedicated in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt and his leadership in conservation policy.

When Teddy Roosevelt was young, he visited the Badlands and experienced the magnificence and beauty of the natural landscape which included wild bison and wild horses exhibiting natural wild behaviors — living in family bands, with stallions protecting their families.

The Park Service is now considering plans to remove most or all of the horses and to destroy the natural wild behaviors of these famous horses through sterilization. Please speak up for them now!

Tell the Park Service the following (in your own words) —

– Preserving wild horses MUST be a cornerstone of the Park’s livestock management plan since they contributed to President Teddy Roosevelt’s wonder at the natural world, leading to his creation of the very first national parks.

– Horses have lived “wild” in TRNP for generations and millions of Park visitors cherish these animals as an integral part of the cultural heritage of the Badlands.

– These horses must be managed to preserve natural behaviors just as Teddy Roosevelt would have experienced. He would have seen stallions protecting their families, foals with their mothers and aunties and the entire repertoire of natural “wild” horse behaviors.

– To protect the genetic health of the herd, the minimum population should be 150 or more. By allowing the horses to use additional areas of the Park, the herd can and should be managed at a higher minimum population level.

Your voice makes a difference.  Please submit your comments directly to the Park Service by clicking below. https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270


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.

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Does TRNP have your comment?

I know by now you are tired of us asking if you sent your comments into Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  This is an extremely critical time for these horses.  They have been waiting 44 years for a new wild horse management plan! 

Options that the park has put forward range from allowing this herd to die out, having a non-reproductive herd behind a fence and taking the current herd of approximately 190 horses down to 30-70!

If NONE of the above options suggested by the park sound good to you – THIS IS YOUR TIME TO TELL THEM!!!!

They are NOT asking for you to vote on what they suggested.  They actually said numerous times that they expect those options to evolve.  Not all of them will make it to the next phase in this planning process!

You have until April 15th – JUST 4 DAYS!!! To share your comments with the park!

We have included this from the Park’s newsletter on how to comment:

PLEASE NOTE IT IS STATED CLEARLY HERE: They are NOT looking for comments to say “I DO or DON’T like Option ____”

They ARE looking for:

“Comments that provide relevant and new information with sufficient detail are most useful.  Substantiative comments do one or more of the following:        

  • Present information that can be used to develop alternatives
  • Present information that can be used with the NPS considers impacts or alternatives
  • Question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of information in an existing report

YOU CAN COMMENT MORE THAN ONCE!!!! You can add your comment here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270

Our friends at American Wild Horse Campaign have created an excellent form letter that you can use to personalize to express your concerns regarding the new wild horse management plan.  You can view their “Action Alert” regarding the TRNP wild horses here: https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/media/act-now-national-park-service-targets-north-dakotas-wild-horse-herd

Our comment letter is in the lands of our lawyers.  Once they give it the thumbs up, we will be happy to share that with all of you as well. 

We do ask that you support our advocacy efforts!  If you look at the 1978 Environmental Assessment (file below) that was done for the wild horses of TRNP, you will clearly see why we feel that having the experienced legal team of Eubanks and Associates with us every step of the way is critical!  We cannot do this without your help and support! There are several ways that you can donate to help us listed on our website! https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

DON’T FORGET!!! American Wild Horse Campaign has given us a $2,000 MATCHING GRANT to help support our advocacy efforts!  We are still a little short of maximizing our goal so please help us if you can!

Thank you for your continued support!


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.

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Comment Period Closes SOON!!!!

Have you checked out the sample comment letter that was provided by our friends at American Wild Horse Campaign? https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/media/act-now-national-park-service-targets-north-dakotas-wild-horse-herd

Please make sure you read this and send your comments to the park by April 15th!!!!!

You can submit your comments here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270

PLEASE REMEMBER – THIS IS NOT ABOUT CHOOSING FROM THEIR DRAFT CONCEPTS!!!

Do you want to see this herd of approximately 190 horses reduced to 30-70????

IF YOU ANSWERED NO, LET THEM KNOW THEIR CURRENT DRAFT CONCEPTS DO NOT WORK!!!!

Let them know that 150-200 horses are what has been SCIENTIFICALLY proven to help preserve genetic diversity – something that has been lacking for YEARS with this herd because Theodore Roosevelt National Park has ONLY been managing this herd by NUMBERS!!!

This is a critical time for this herd, and they need ALL of our help! 

We are working with the legal team at Eubanks and Associates and if you look at the 1978 Environmental Assessment (located in the library section of our website (https://chwha.org/library/) , you will see why we KNOW it is critical that they work with us every step of the way! 

Their amazing work costs money and is currently our biggest expense!  Please make a donation to help support our advocacy efforts!  American Wild Horse Campaign has GENEROUSLY given us a $2,000 MATCHING grant!  We are about $500 short of our goal! ANY amount you can donate will help!

There are several ways you can help:

Make a direct donation to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates! We have added quick donation buttons starting at $5 on the homepage our website! http://www.chwha.org

Donate to our Go Fund Me Campaign! https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-chasing-horses-advocacy-efforts?member=15293411&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer

We have been certified and verified as a nonprofit through Paypal! You can donate to us through Paypal here: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=YM4YWW5D4CRRY&fbclid=IwAR05vEvFkOq4eiOrT6Ufm4WlRCYclSli-k6Uu5_mxKHwoJoS57dFRnsekBY

Mail in your check or money order donation to:
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates
P.O. Box 3562
Dickinson, ND 58602

Thank you for your support!


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.

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Advocates criticize wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park being treated as ‘livestock’

The National Park Service should protect the genetic diversity of the historic horse herd at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, advocates say.

From this mornings Fargo Forum: https://www.inforum.com/news/north-dakota/advocates-criticize-wild-horses-at-theodore-roosevelt-national-park-being-treated-as-livestock

FARGO — An advocacy group contends that Theodore Roosevelt National Park has failed to meet its obligations under federal law and follow its own regulations to maintain proper stewardship of its herd of wild horses.

A lawyer for the nonprofit Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates argues the National Park Service neglected to notify the public or perform a required environmental analysis before removing horses from the park.

Park officials also have failed to evaluate the impact its birth-control program, which began as an experiment in 2009 involving injecting mares with a contraceptive drug, would have on the herd, the lawyer claimed.

A15-page letter dated March 21 expressing “serious concerns” was sent to Angie Richman, superintendent, and other officials at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Matthew Arnold, a Washington, D.C., lawyer for Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates, based in Dickinson, takes issue with the park’s designation of the horse herd, which roams freely within the park’s south unit, as livestock.

Even if considered livestock, the National Park Service is bound by regulations to notify the public before any horse roundups or removals occur, he said.

“By contrast, if these horses are in fact ‘wild,’ which they are, the TRNP must take certain measures to protect their genetic diversity and may not remove them from the Park without undertaking certain analyses mandated by federal law,” Arnold wrote.

The park’s management of the horse herd, now estimated at 180 head, has not complied with the National Environmental Policy Act, he said in the letter. The park has used a “cursory” 44-year-old environmental analysis as its management document, Arnold added, even though “much has changed since.”

Theodore Roosevelt National Park officials did not respond to written questions submitted by The Forum or to requests for a statement on the allegations raised by the letter.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park officials announced on March 16 that they have begun to prepare a livestock management plan for the horses and nine head of longhorn cattle kept in the north unit of the park.

Six draft concepts the park is considering range from not making any changes to eliminating both the horse and cattle herds. Written comments from the public will be accepted until April 15, and officials expect to complete the plan later this year or next year.

The park’s designation of the “free-roaming” horses as “livestock” has never been explained. The National Park Service has said the horses depict a historic scene from Theodore Roosevelt’s ranching time in the Badlands during the 1880s.

The wild horses were in the area before the park was established in 1947, Arnold wrote. Roosevelt himself wrote of seeing horses run wild in the Badlands, which he said were ranch strays or Native American ponies that got loose.

Although the 1978 environmental evaluation of the park horses mentioned “fertility control” as a means of reducing the size of the herd, the report did not “actually evaluate the impact that those fertility control methods would have on the herd,” Arnold wrote.

Responses to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates’ Freedom of Information Act requests reveal that the park wasn’t taking herd censuses before or after removing horses, and its roundups “were not accounting for the horses’ historic significance,” the letter said.

The Organic Act of 1916, which created the National Park Service, includes a “strict preservation mandate” that “broadly prohibits ‘taking’ or intentionally ‘disturbing'” wildlife within a park, Arnold wrote.

Also, National Park Service regulations do not distinguish between native and non-native wildlife species but do allow an exception for livestock animals. “Although NPS has never formally designated the wild horses as ‘livestock,’ the agency manages these animals as livestock,” Arnold wrote.

Despite calling the horses livestock, there is no sign the wild horses are “domesticated in any way,” and “they have never been fed, sheltered, or cared for in any way by the Park,” his letter said. Although the horses might be descendants of domesticated animals — park officials sometimes describe them as feral — they are by definition no longer “domesticated or cultivated.”

Unlike at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, at the Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland, the National Park Service maintains a herd of 80 to 100 wild horses managed as wildlife, Arnold wrote.

By classifying the wild horses as livestock instead of wildlife, the park has denied the horses protections under its agency-wide management policies, Arnold said. Even removal of nonnative species — the park considers horses a nonnative species — must be done in a way that ensures their removal is “prudent and feasible,” his letter said, adding that the park has failed to comply.

“The dearth of responsive records indicates that the TRNP’s roundups are, at best, conducted on an ad hoc basis and lack any coherent guiding principle,” Arnold wrote. “For example, the agency’s response indicates that it is not tracking the kinship of the horses under its jurisdiction, or monitoring the herd for potential impediments to their reproductive capacity or their genetic diversity,” such as “risks associated with inbreeding.”

A study of the park’s horses in 1989 traced the historical lineage of the herd, in part, to horses surrendered by Sitting Bull and his followers at Fort Buford in 1881 and recommended that the park “take care to manage the herd in a way that preserves this historical lineage,” Arnold wrote.

But the park’s adherence to a target population of “approximately 40 horses” under the 44-year-old environmental assessment ignores the park’s duty to ensure that the herd represents horses that “existed in the park during the park’s period of historical significance,” the open-range ranching era of Roosevelt’s time, he wrote.

The park’s decades-old goal of significantly reducing the herd’s size is not consistent with scientific findings for public horse herds outlined in research by the National Academy of Science, Arnold wrote.

A 2013 report found that keeping herd sizes “artificially low” causes wild horse populations to increase at higher rates — leading to additional removals that otherwise might not be necessary, his letter said.

“To any rational observer, wild horses are in fact wildlife and the Park must explain why it continues to treat them differently,” Arnold wrote. “Regardless of their designation, however, the Park must also ensure that horses belonging to the historical lineages observed by Theodore Roosevelt remain in the park.”


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.

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And then there were 7…

And then there were 7…

That’s right!  There are ONLY 7 short days left to make sure that you have submitted your comments regarding the wild horse management plan to Theodore Roosevelt National Park!

As we mentioned yesterday, PLEASE DO NOT comment that you like ANY of the options UNLESS all you ever want in the park is a maximum of 30-70 horses!  We shared this yesterday – which uses SCIENCE to say that 150-200 horses MINIMUM are required for genetic diversity! 

Gus Cothran, a well-respected leader in equine genetics, has stated in The United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management Wild Horses & Burros Management Handbook (see section 4.4.6.3 Herd Size):

“A minimum population size of 50 effective breeding animals (i.e., a total population size of about 150-200 animals) is currently recommended to maintain an acceptable level of genetic diversity within reproducing WH&B populations (Cothran, 2009). (BLM Horses and Burro Handbook 4.4.6.3 at page 22)

This herd is already seeing inbreeding issues, like Lethal White Syndrome.  30-70 horses will mean more of the same inbreeding issues OR a non-reproductive herd!

THIS is the time to tell the park what you want to see in the wild horse herd at Theodore Roosevelt National Park!

If you are like us and so many other people we have heard from, you are EXTREMELY upset that the park has decided to suddenly classify the wild horses as “Livestock”.

LET THEM KNOW YOU ARE OPPOSED TO THAT!!!!

While the majority of the questions asked by us and our board members were NOT answered on the Park’s March 30th Civic Engagement Meeting, the park did answer ONE of our pre-submitted questions:

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?

TRNP Chief Resource Manager, Blake McCann, took the liberty of answering that question:

“There are a lot of different scenarios under the 6 draft preliminary alternatives. one thing that could be addressed going forward is the disparity on how we manage the cattle and the horses.  Wherever horses are free ranging across the landscape NOT in association with corral facilities the options are really limited to provide supportive care. With the cattle, on the other hand, where we have facilities that we can put them behind a fence, we can provide supplements that then would not also be accessed by the bison or other wildlife.  We do not want to be in this place of providing those unnatural things to a wildlife population that we want them to continue to interact with the environment and to adapt and change over time and be responsive to that environment. So, under scenarios where we have pastured animals, we create the opportunity for a different interaction.  In the case with horses, that could mean supplemental feeding and veterinary care that would change that relationship that we have with them currently.” 

THERE is your PROOF that these horses are NOT livestock!  Right out of Blake McCann’s mouth!  There are very distinct differences between the horses and the longhorn cattle, and Blake explained it PERFECTLY!! FEEL FREE TO SAY THAT IN YOUR COMMENTS TO THE PARK!!!! YES!!! You CAN comment multiple times!

On March 30, 2022, Theodore Roosevelt National Park held a “Zoom Meeting” where they gave the public a slide presentation and promised that the transcript of that meeting would be made available to the public.

Only the slide presentation was made available on their planning portal: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=167&projectID=105110&documentID=119653

We have our own audio recording of the meeting, but we also submitted the following question to the wild horse communication portal today, and suggest that you do so as well:

Please post the complete transcript or a link to the entire recording of the Park’s March 30th public meeting to allow the public to provide meaningful comments on and/or information about the Park’s forthcoming livestock management plan. We understand and very much appreciate that the Park has provided a copy of the presentation slides from that meeting; however, those presentation slides do not include comments made by TRNP staff during the course of that meeting—including their responses to questions submitted by the public— which provided necessary, supplementary information about how the public can best structure its participation throughout the management planning process, including during the now-open comment period that closes on April 15th. Because the public was notified that “this meeting is being recorded” at the outset, and because that recording is necessary to provide meaningful comments/information to the Park during the ongoing comment period, the Park should promptly post a link to the Zoom recording and/or a transcript of the entire meeting. We appreciate the Park’s prompt attention to this matter.

You can submit your question to the portal here: https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/feral-wild-horses.htm

MOST IMPORTANTLY, the public has until April 15th to submit their comment either online here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270

Or they can be mailed to the park at:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
PO Box 7
Medora, ND 58645

American Wild Horse Campaign has posted a sample comment letter that you can use to personalize your own response to TRNP!  You can view their Action Alert here: https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/media/act-now-national-park-service-targets-north-dakotas-wild-horse-herd

Don’t forget! American Wild Horse Campaign has also given a matching grant of $2000 to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates! Please check out this link on our website for ways you can help us meet this goal! https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support!


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.

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Why NONE of TRNP’s proposed “Draft Concepts” are Acceptable

There are ONLY 8 days left for you to submit your comments to Theodore Roosevelt National Park!  Have you submitted your comments yet?! The public has until April 15th to submit their comment either online here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=119270

Or they can be mailed to the park at:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
PO Box 7
Medora, ND 58645

American Wild Horse Campaign has posted a sample comment letter that you can use to personalize your own response to TRNP!  You can view their Action Alert here: https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/media/act-now-national-park-service-targets-north-dakotas-wild-horse-herd

We appreciate AWHC taking the time to create this sample letter and explain this process. NONE of the organizations (including CHWHA) that advocate for these horses have EVER been through this process! Comments needs to be clear, concise, educated and backed by science. “Voting” for the “best” “Draft Concept” IS NOT part of this process! All of the concepts they have proposed will NOT move forward to the next part of this process! THIS is your time to let them know WHAT you want for the future of this herd!

Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is opposed to EACH of the proposed “Draft Concepts”.  From the obvious reasons, like we DO NOT approve of a non-reproductive herd behind a secondary fence in the park to their proposals that do not allow for more than 70 horses.

Superintendent Angela Richman and her staff told us repeatedly at the Zoom Civic Engagement meeting on March 30th that:

“We definitely want to take the most up-to-date scientific research that we have available and make sure that we are applying that.”

Here is science that supports the herd size:

Gus Cothran, a well-respected leader in equine genetics, has stated in The United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management Wild Horses & Burros Management Handbook (see section 4.4.6.3 Herd Size):

“A minimum population size of 50 effective breeding animals (i.e., a total population size of about 150-200 animals) is currently recommended to maintain an acceptable level of genetic diversity within reproducing WH&B populations (Cothran, 2009). (BLM Horses and Burro Handbook 4.4.6.3 at page 22)

Please note: Even though this is found in the BLM handbook and these horses are managed by the National Park Service, BOTH agencies are under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior.  We were also happy to also hear TRNP staff state at the March 30th meeting state that:

“Even though the NPS is not subject to the wild horse & burro act, that does not mean that we can’t learn from other agencies like the Forest Service and the BLM.  We frequently do consult their subject matter experts and resource experts as well when we are going through a project.” 

We want to thank all of you who continue to send us messages and comments stating that if the herd size is reduced to that low of a number OR if the park puts this herd behind a secondary fence and only allows a non-reproductive herd to stay within the park boundaries that you will NOT visit TRNP anymore OR for those of you out-of-state, will NOT even visit the State of North Dakota.  THOSE are comments that need to be given to the Department of Tourism and Governor Doug Burgum’s office!  You can contact them here:

Your letter should go to Sara Otte Coleman, head of the North Dakota Department of Tourism (socoleman@nd.gov) and also Shelly Haugen at Governor Doug Burgum’s office (skhaugen@nd.gov

Your letter can be as simple as:

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND.  As you are aware, the park held a Zoom meeting last week to discuss their proposed “draft concepts” with the public.  I am deeply concerned that these wild horses are being mis-classified as livestock.  I fear that this incorrect classification will allow the park to either eliminate the wild horses entirely from Theodore Roosevelt National Park or will leave this unique herd as a non-reproductive herd, behind a fence in more of a zoo like setting than a national park. 

IF the park moves forward with either of those concepts, I will no longer visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park OR the state of North Dakota. +

I do hope that you will speak on behalf of these horses and work with the park to take away the livestock classification and include a “concept” that will allow a genetically viable and historic herd of horses to remain in Theodore Roosevelt National Park for future generations to enjoy.

Thank you for your consideration.

Lastly, THANK YOU to everyone who is helping us reach our current fundraising goal!  American Wild Horse Campaign has awarded us a $2,000 MATCHING grant to help support our advocacy work!  THIS is a GREAT time to maximize your donation to us!  Every $1 you donate NOW will be matched by AWHC!  There are several ways you can donate listed on our website: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support and PLEASE make sure you get your comments in by April 15th! THIS is the most significant thing happening within this herd at this time!  Pretty pictures will not mean a thing if there are NO horses left in the park!


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.

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3/30 Zoom Meeting Transcript

On March 30, 2022, Theodore Roosevelt National Park held a “Zoom Meeting” where they gave the public a slide presentation and promised that the transcript of that meeting would be made available to the public.

Today, only the slide presentation was made available on their planning portal: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=167&projectID=105110&documentID=119653

We submitted the following question to the wild horse communication portal today, and suggest that you do so as well:

Please post the complete transcript or a link to the entire recording of the Park’s March 30th public meeting to allow the public to provide meaningful comments on and/or information about the Park’s forthcoming livestock management plan. We understand and very much appreciate that the Park has provided a copy of the presentation slides from that meeting; however, those presentation slides do not include comments made by TRNP staff during the course of that meeting—including their responses to questions submitted by the public— which provided necessary, supplementary information about how the public can best structure its participation throughout the management planning process, including during the now-open comment period that closes on April 15th. Because the public was notified that “this meeting is being recorded” at the outset, and because that recording is necessary to provide meaningful comments/information to the Park during the ongoing comment period, the Park should promptly post a link to the Zoom recording and/or a transcript of the entire meeting. We appreciate the Park’s prompt attention to this matter.

You can submit your question to the portal here: https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/feral-wild-horses.htm

Thank you for your support!

Don’t forget! American Wild Horse Campaign has also given a matching grant of $2000 to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates! Please check out this link on our website for ways you can help us meet this goal! https://chwha.org/support-chwha/


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.

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ACT NOW: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE TARGETS NORTH DAKOTA’S WILD HORSE HERD

American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) just released their “Action Alert” for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park! You can read it here: https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/media/act-now-national-park-service-targets-north-dakotas-wild-horse-herd

Many of you have asked what to comment for the proposed wild horse management plan. Comments can be made here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=167&projectID=105110&documentID=119270

AWHC offers this sample letter that can be personalized for your own comment:

LETTER

To Whom It May Concern:

Please accept the following comments on the Scoping Notice for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s (TRNP) Livestock Management Plan (LMP) for its wild horses and longhorn cattle.

While the National Park Service (NPS) is preparing the LMP, it must stop all roundups and removals of the horses and the use of fertility control. 

Additionally, an Environmental Analysis (EA) should consider and analyze the following alternatives:

  • Change the designation of the Theodore Roosevelt horses from “livestock” to “wildlife.” The NPS has never explained why they’re designated as livestock and doesn’t acknowledge paleontological evidence and mitochondrial DNA analysis supporting the fact that wild horses are a reintroduced native species to this continent.
  • Set a minimum herd size of 150 horses to ensure a genetically viable herd, as recommended by  Dr. Gus Cothran, an equine geneticist, for all wild horse herds in the United States.
  • If “new blood” needs to be brought into the herd, introduce horses who are historically significant to the TRNP and prioritize the Nokota horses.  A 2018 study from Texas A&M found that the historic herd is at risk of inbreeding and recommended introducing new mares and changing removal strategies to preserve genetics and lineages.
  • Given concerns about its potential for permanent sterilization and injection site abscesses, eliminate the use of GonaCon for the fertility control program. When administering any fertility control program, the NPS must consider the herd’s genetics and bloodlines as well as the safety of mares.  Instead of GonaCon, the NPS should implement a fertility control program using PZP that has been proven to be reversible and safe for the mare.
  • If removal of horses needs to take place, use science and genetics to determine what horses will be removed.  However, a successful fertility control program should mean that there is no need from removals. 

Further, instead of selling captured horses via the General Services Administration Online Auctions website, the NPS must develop an adoption program that screens potential adopters and includes a contract with facility and care requirements and a prohibition on the sale of horses for slaughter.

Finally, due to the controversial nature of the LMP and the myriad of legal, environmental, economic, and social issues it raises, an Environmental Impact Statement is required. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Don’t forget! American Wild Horse Campaign has also given a matching grant of $2000 to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates! Please check out this link on our website for ways you can help us meet this goal! https://chwha.org/support-chwha/


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.

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Freedom isn’t Guaranteed!

Warning – this will be a very raw post…

I sat here in tears this morning. Overwhelmed, exasperated, and doing everything I can to muster up some positive energy to get through the rest of my day and all I need to accomplish.

Last week’s Zoom meeting from Theodore Roosevelt National Park has cast a dark shadow over the future of this herd.  We all see the direction that TRNP park management seems to be leaning with regards to the future of this herd.  It is extremely disheartening to see my fellow “advocates” still putting the wishes of the park ahead of the viability of this herd. 

While they are all out finding the new babies they are sharing on their Facebook pages, as part of the habits formed during the days of their partnership agreements to promote these horses so that when the time comes to sell off these babies, you have already fallen in love with them, we are here working with our lawyers, other national nonprofits groups, reading, studying and formulating our comment that is due by APRIL 15th that will be 30-40 pages long with over 1,000 pages of supporting documentation!  In addition, we are talking to every member of the press that will listen to help raise awareness to this extremely critical time for the future of the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

The truth is, the future of each of these new babies being born, as well as EVERY horse in this herd, is extremely uncertain.  This wild horse management plan is long overdue!  The current draft concept of “No Action” would mean that they continue to sell off the babies and leave what is an old herd to die off.  Time will tell how many of the remaining mares have been permanently sterilized and maybe, if the herd ever gets to their unfounded target number of 30-70 horses, they will bring in some BLM horses – because the National Park Service, while stating that they will be formulating a management plan using “lessons learned” – still does not see any historical significance to this unique herd of wild horses. 

We see the beauty of this amazing herd and we feel blessed to be able to share their amazing grace, beauty and FREEDOM with all of you all around the globe. 

Imagine if at least 120 of these horses (if not more), from every age group, are rounded up and sold or donated to local native tribes.  That was mentioned as a possibility on the Zoom call.  Imagine that what remains is permanently sterilized and put behind an additional fence – where the NPS has offered to add an additional parking lot – so that instead of seeing these beautiful animals running wild and free throughout the only home they have ever known, they are now locked behind a fence in a zoo like setting. 

That is NOT wild and free anymore.

Those are REAL possibilities that the park is exploring. 

Those are REAL possibilities for the fate of our beloved wild horses in TRNP.

We have initiated change.  CHANGE is needed.  Selling off the babies and letting the older horses die off was the obvious unspoken management plan for these horses for the at least the last 13, if not 44 years. 

We have the opportunity to make a significant change to the management of these horses and fight to make sure that future generations see them running wild and free like Theodore Roosevelt did and like we do today. 

We are humble enough to say we do not have all of the answers.  We know we need help to navigate through this process. 

We believe the best way to navigate through this process is to have our legal team at Eubanks and Associates, PLLC working with us throughout this management planning process.  There are several places throughout this process where IF things are NOT being done right, litigation is possible.  We need their expertise to check over the reports that are forthcoming that will help mold and shape the management plan that will be in place for years to come.

Their legal services cost money and to have them with us through this entire process will be costly.  We have already spent close to $10,000 on legal fees and we are just getting started! 

Once decisions are made and this plan is in place, and the freedom of the wild horses of TRNP are lost, it will be too late to help them. 

American Wild Horse Campaign has generously offered a $2000 matching grant to help our advocacy efforts! We hope you will help take advantage of this time to Double your impact and help these amazing horses. 

There are several ways that you can donate to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates – ANY of these options will be matched dollar for dollar from AWHC!!  Every $1 counts now more than ever! 

Hit that DONATE button on our Facebook page or our Facebook posts! (Please note that every new post we create on Facebook creates a new donation tracker. If you have made a post in the past, THANK YOU! Past donations do NOT count toward this new fundraising goal)  https://www.facebook.com/ChasingHorsesWHA

Make a direct donation to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates! We have added quick donation buttons starting at $5 on the homepage our website! http://www.chwha.org

Donate to our Go Fund Me Campaign! https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-chasing-horses-advocacy-efforts?member=15293411&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer

We have been certified and verified as a nonprofit through Paypal! You can donate to us through Paypal here: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=YM4YWW5D4CRRY&fbclid=IwAR05vEvFkOq4eiOrT6Ufm4WlRCYclSli-k6Uu5_mxKHwoJoS57dFRnsekBY

Mail in your check or money order donation to:
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates
P.O. Box 3562
Dickinson, ND 58602

Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is a 501(c)3 organization which means that your donation is TAX DEDUCTABLE!!

Most importantly, there are NOW ONLY 10 days left to submit your comments to Theodore Roosevelt National Park!  We will have sample comments available once our lawyers finish reading ours.  American Wild Horse Campaign will also be publishing their own suggested comments soon as well!  We will share that information as soon as it is available.

You can leave your comment with Theodore Roosevelt National Park here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=167&projectID=105110&documentID=119270

Thank you for your support!


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.

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Good News for a Monday morning!

We have some EXCITING news to share on how you can DOUBLE your impact to help our advocacy efforts!!!

We were informed this morning that American Wild Horse Campaign will be giving Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates a $2000 MATCHING GRANT to help support our advocacy work for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND!!!

We need your help NOW more than ever!  As you know, TRNP has FINALLY initiated the process of the highly anticipated horse management plan!  We believe that the best way to help us navigate through this process is to have our legal team at Eubanks and Associates with us through this ENTIRE process!  We need your financial support to ensure that the BEST possible management plan is put in place for the wild horses that call TRNP home!

For every $1 you donate for this campaign $1 will be matched by AWHC! 

There are several ways that you can donate to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates – ANY of these options will be matched dollar for dollar from AWHC!!  Every $1 counts now more than ever! 

Hit that DONATE button on our Facebook page or our Facebook posts! https://www.facebook.com/ChasingHorsesWHA

Make a direct donation to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates! We have added quick donation buttons starting at $5 on the homepage our website! http://www.chwha.org

Donate to our Go Fund Me Campaign! https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-chasing-horses-advocacy-efforts?member=15293411&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer

We have been certified and verified as a nonprofit through Paypal! You can donate to us through Paypal here: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=YM4YWW5D4CRRY&fbclid=IwAR05vEvFkOq4eiOrT6Ufm4WlRCYclSli-k6Uu5_mxKHwoJoS57dFRnsekBY

Mail in your check or money order donation to:
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates
P.O. Box 3562
Dickinson, ND 58602

Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is a 501(c)3 organization which means that your donation is TAX DEDUCTABLE!!

Thank you for your support and we would like to thank American Wild Horse Campaign for their generous donation!

How soon do you think we can reach this goal?!


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.

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Let them hear YOUR voice!

Since the Zoom meeting last week with Theodore Roosevelt National Park, many of you have written to us or commented on our blog or posts that you were concerned that the TRNP park management’s goal is to either eliminate the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park entirely or keep them as a non-reproductive herd behind an additional fence.  Many of you have likened the latter to a zoo environment. Most importantly, many of you have told us that if TRNP moves forward with EITHER of those choices, you will no longer visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park OR the state of North Dakota. 

While we appreciate you sharing your thoughts and concerns with us, those are things that NEED to be said to the North Dakota Department of Tourism AND to Governor Doug Burgum.  I have attached a screen shot of the governor welcoming Superintendent Angela Richman and expressing his excitement to be able to “collaborate” with her.  Please let his office know that you would like them to “collaborate” with the new Superintendent in ways that keep our wild horses wild and free in Theodore Roosevelt National Park!

Your letter should go to Sara Otte Coleman, head of the North Dakota Department of Tourism (socoleman@nd.gov) and also Shelly Haugen at Governor Doug Burgum’s office (skhaugen@nd.gov

Your letter can be as simple as:

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND.  As you are aware, the park held a Zoom meeting last week to discuss their proposed “draft concepts” with the public.  I am deeply concerned that these wild horses are being mis-classified as livestock.  I fear that this incorrect classification will allow the park to either eliminate the wild horses entirely from Theodore Roosevelt National Park or will leave this unique herd as a non-reproductive herd, behind a fence in more of a zoo like setting than a national park. 

IF the park moves forward with either of those concepts, I will no longer visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park OR the state of North Dakota. +

I do hope that you will speak on behalf of these horses and work with the park to take away the livestock classification and include a “concept” that will allow a genetically viable and historic herd of horses to remain in Theodore Roosevelt National Park for future generations to enjoy.

Thank you for your consideration.


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.

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Paved Paradise

I felt the need to write a new blog post because I know so many of you are feeling down and defeated after TRNP’s Zoom meeting this past week.

I guess I have just one thing to say…

Chin up Buttercup! 

This isn’t over!

This process is JUST BEGINNING!!!

So many of you have commented and messaged us asking “WHAT CAN WE DO?”

For starters, please share our posts!  We are sharing information that is being given to us by our legal team at Eubanks & Associates as well as American Wild Horse Campaign!  THEY have actually been through these processes MANY times! 

Second, DON’T comment to the park that you like ANY of their “draft concepts” if you don’t want ONLY 30-70 horses left in the park!!!!  Despite what you might read on other pages – WE CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH – THIS IS THE TIME TO TELL THEM WHAT YOU WANT!!!! FOR STARTERS – WE WANT TO KNOW WHEN AND WHY THE HORSES ARE NOW BEING CLASSIFIED AS LIVESTOCK!!! 

Third, PLEASE support our advocacy efforts!  It is easy to see that we ABSOLUTELY NEED our legal team working with us through this ENTIRE process!  In addition to this, they are also working on our FOIA appeal!  That will also give us information that can be used during this critical management planning process.

It really is a CRUCIAL time for these horses.  I am also overwhelmed with sadness as new babies are being born in the park.  Do they, or ANY of the wild horses in the TRNP herd have a future or will they be culled from the park and replaced with a non-reproductive herd behind a fence?  I keep hearing that Joni Mitchell song “They Paved Paradise” when I think of that option. 

THESE HORSES NEED YOU TO BE THEIR VOICE NOW MORE THAN EVER!!! 

This is NOT the time to continue to agree with choices given to us by the park!  THIS is the time to tell them what we want considered in the new management plan.  THIS is the time to stand up and speak up for the wild horses in TRNP! 

I am working on my comment letter and once that has been approved by our legal team, we will be making a shortened version that you can use to guide your comments. 

Please, work on staying optimistic.  We know it is hard especially with such a lackluster presentation the other day.  We are working with local media to help get the word out – but PLEASE contact any national media you can think of or have a contact for.  This is why sharing these posts becomes even more important than ever.

We will have more on ways you can help during this process soon.  You can ask questions on their horses communication portal here: https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/feral-wild-horses.htm
You can comment on the management plan here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=105110

Thank you for your support!

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.

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Forum Editorial: Wild horses must remain a vital part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park

New article in the Fargo Forum newspaper today: https://www.inforum.com/opinion/forum-editorial-wild-horses-must-remain-a-vital-part-of-theodore-roosevelt-national-park

By Forum Editorial Board

April 01, 2022 12:02 PM

It’s hard to imagine Theodore Roosevelt National Park without the wild horses roaming along with the bison in the rugged Little Missouri Badlands. They’re an iconic attraction at the park.

The wild horses were a striking part of the landscape when Roosevelt ranched there during the open range era in the 1880s.

“In a great many … indeed, in most … localities there are wild horses being either themselves runaways from some ranch or Indian outfit, or else claiming such for their sires and dams, yet are quite as wild as the antelope on whose domain they have intruded,” Roosevelt wrote in his memoir, “Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail.”

But the fate of the horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park is uncertain. The National Park Service recently announced that it will draft a new livestock management plan for the horses and longhorn cattle, both maintained as “displays” of the ranching scene in Roosevelt’s time.

Park officials have outlined six draft “concepts” for managing the animals, ranging from not making any changes to eliminating both the horse and livestock herds.

It’s simply unacceptable for the National Park Service to even consider getting rid of the horses, which are integral to the park experience for visitors from around the country. The horses are a tourism draw for North Dakota.

More importantly, they represent an important part of the historical and natural heritage that Theodore Roosevelt National Park exists to preserve.

In spite of that, the park service has treated the horses as an invasive species that it tolerates as a nod to Roosevelt’s time — somehow classifying the horses as livestock instead of what they are, horses that roam wild within the park, fending for themselves alongside the bison, elk, antelope and other wildlife species.

Unlike the longhorn steers, the park service does nothing to feed, water or otherwise care for these horses, making their classification as livestock ludicrous. We suspect that designation is intended to give the park a way of dodging its legal obligations to protect all wildlife species, native or non-native.

The park should adopt a management plan to preserve the horse herd — and to maintain important bloodlines — by keeping the herd’s numbers large enough to have a healthy breeding population.

There have been concerns for decades that reducing the herd size too much will cause inbreeding problems and detract from the horses’ genetic health. Even so, an environmental assessment in 1978 — still the park’s guiding management document 44 years later — proposed maintaining a population goal of 35 to 60 horses.

That’s much too small to maintain a genetically healthy herd, which equine genetic experts have said would require keeping the horse herd at 120 or more. In fact, the 1978 environmental assessment noted signs of inbreeding and suggested its recommended small herd size is “somewhat arbitrary.”

A range specialist from the Bureau of Land Management, which manages many wild horse herds in the West, wrote in an evaluation that was part of the 1978 assessment that Theodore Roosevelt National Park provides excellent habitat for wild horses.

“It should be obvious to even an untrained observer that the park could support a much larger population of wild horses without adverse impacts upon the soil or vegetative resources as well as other wildlife species,” the range specialist wrote.

We’ll add that it should be obvious that Theodore Roosevelt National Park should keep its wild horse herd, maintained at a size that preserves the important horse ancestry in the park.

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Advocacy Update

We wanted to give you a quick update on our advocacy efforts!

We are currently working with our highly respected and knowledgeable lawyers, Eubanks and Associates, PLLC, to help us navigate through this critical time for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park!  Park management has FINALLY initiated the horse management planning process!  Please make sure you join us in commenting to the park by April 15th on WHAT changes you would like to see them adopt for the future management of this herd!  You can add your comment here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=105110

We are excited to be a part of the new management planning process and hope that these horses will get a management plan that is similar to many other wild horse management plans that have integrated SCIENCE AND GENETICS to ensure that their wild horses continue to survive and thrive for generations to come! A simple google search of Assateague’s, Salt River’s, Shackleford Bank’s or The Pryor Mountain’s wild horse management plan are just a few that come to mind!

We expect this planning process to take 1-3 years and the changes that are initiated at this time will impact this herd for YEARS to come!  The park did an Elk management plan in 2010 that the current herd is still being managed by! We are committed to having an experienced law firm like Eubanks and Associates work with us through this entire process to make sure that the wild horses of TRNP get the best management plan possible!

We believe that our partnership with Eubanks and Associates has helped initiate some of the much needed changes with regards to the management of the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park! This includes STOPPING round-ups and the administration of birth control to the horses in TRNP using past management practices that do NOT take science and genetics into account, during this management planning process! If you look at the Environmental Assessment from 1978 that this herd of horses is currently being managed under, you will see WHY it is soooooo important that Eubanks and Associates continues to helps us navigate through this ENTIRE process! You can read the 1978 EA by going to the library section of this page or clicking here:

We are also working with Congressman Cohen and Congresswoman DeGette’s offices in conjunction with our own ND Congressman Armstrong with American Wild Horse Campaign to try to get a public law initiated that will protect the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park – similar to the way that Public Law 105-229 protects the Shackleford Banks wild horses at Cape Lookout National Seashore.  Stay tuned for updates!

We also have several long-term goals and projects that we are hoping to be able to share with you soon!

None of our advocacy work is possible without your help and support!  Please consider making a donation to help support our advocacy work during this critical time for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park!  There are several ways that you can help support our advocacy efforts listed on our website here: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is a 501(c)3 organization – which means that your donation is 100% TAX DEDUCTABLE!! Every penny of your donation goes toward helping us advocate for EVERY wild horse that calls Theodore Roosevelt National Park home! We have vowed to NOT help support the park in its decimation of this herd by selling off every baby and none of our board members are reimbursed for their time, cameras, gas/travel, park passes or equipment! Every penny LITERLALLY goes to help us advocate for these horses!

Thank you for your support and stay tuned for more exciting updates coming soon!

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.

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About Last Night…

About Last Night…

We hope that everyone was able to attend the Zoom meeting regarding the current management plan that has been initiated for the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND.

We will wait for the transcript of the meeting to be made available before we comment completely on the night.  We will share a few things that TRNP did clarify:

  • It was made clear again several times during the meeting that this is JUST THE START OF THIS PROCESS!!!  They are merely “gathering information” from the public to incorporate into new or combined “concepts” that will move forward into the next phase. Please continue to share your comments with the park through 4/15.  We will be creating a form letter in the coming week that will highlight points we feel should be considered during this process so that you can decide what is important to you as you formulate your own comments. You can submit your comments online here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=105110
  • They have NOT committed to ONLY doing an Environmental Assessment (EA) instead of an Environmental Impact Study (EIS).  To be clear – an EA is done for processes like this when the proposed action will not have any significant impact on the environment.  HOW CAN ANY CHANGE IN THE MANAGEMENT OF THE WILD HORSES NOT HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT?  Please make sure you continue to include that you would like them to do an EIS instead of an EA for this process when you submit your comments by April 15th. Your comments at EVERY stage of this process is EXTREMELY important!  
  • It would appear, as you can see by the screenshot from the meeting (at the end of this blog), that what was initially broadcast as a scoping phase is now some kind of a preliminary NEPA process.  All in all, this is good, because it means that WE (the public) get a 3rd comment period for this process.
  • There is some confusion by some of you – the long horn cattle live in the North Unit.  The wild horses live in the South Unit.  The horses are NOT competing for anything with the cattle.  HOWEVER – it was interesting the number of times they mentioned that the BISON were NATIVE, and the HORSES were INVASIVE – and essentially, sounding like their cousins at the BLM, were stating that the 180 NON-NATIVE horses are actually taking resources from the NATIVE 400-700 bison. 
  • We are looking forward to all of our questions that were submitted by the CHWHA board that were NOT answered last night being answered on the wild horse communication portal.  They also said you are free to continue to ask questions there as well.  You can access their wild horse communication portal here: https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/feral-wild-horses.htm

My dear friend Frank Kuntz called me today.  Like so many of us, he was not impressed with the meeting, but we all did take a few nuggets away.  Frank has been fighting for the entire 44 years for this moment and I can’t imagine how many emotions are running through him: frustration, irritation, doubt, and genuine concerns that they will do something crazy like take all of the wild horses and make a non-reproductive herd that sits behind a smaller fence for “public viewing”.  I told Frank I am trying hard to stay optimistic. I believe in our legal team and that helps drive my optimism. 

As we were getting ready to hang up, Frank said to me: “Stay optimistic!” 

You bet Frank! You bet!

Please feel free to share your thoughts or concerns about the meeting. 

We also hope that you will help support our advocacy work!  There are several ways you can donate to help us here: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support and have a great day!

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REMINDER: ZOOM MEETING TODAY!!!

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: vpm@empsi.com. 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

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Have you registered for TOMORROW’s ZOOM meeting?

Have you registered for TOMORROW’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: vpm@empsi.com

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

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The times they are A-Changin’!

This has been HANDS DOWN one of the craziest, busiest BUT MOST GRATIFYING weeks that I can remember! 

HOW EXCITING IS ALL THIS NEWS?!!!

FINALLY!! The wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park will have a proper wild horse management plan!!! 

We are in the process of formulating our comment for this process and it will be SUBSTANTIAL!  We are NOT in favor of ANY of the proposed “Draft Concepts” that the park has introduced and we plan to submit significant documentation to support our position.  Once we have completed our comment document, it will be sent to our attorney’s office so they can look it over and discuss any changes they think we should consider.  Since there is no document upload button on the planning portal, we will be PRINTING EVERY PAGE OF EVERY SINGLE DOCUMENT THAT WE NEED TO that scientifically backs up our comment document.  We estimate that to be easily 800-1000 pages of supporting documentation!

This entire week has been flooded with phone calls, emails, and messages from everyone from our followers, lawyers, fellow advocates, and the press!  We are excited that there is so much positive support surrounding this long awaited and highly anticipated wild horse management plan FINALLY becoming reality!

Please feel free to continue to ask us your questions!  This is an extremely important time for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park! 

That change has been made possible by each and every one of you who asked us how we could bring about much needed change in several areas of the current management of the wild horses we all love in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND! 

WE DID IT!!!  Change is inevitable now! 

NOW – we need to make sure that the changes that happen are the ones that best address the issues we have all been concerned about for so long!  We believe the BEST way to navigate through this process is with our legal team at Eubanks and Associates, PLLC, walking through this with us!  You can read more about our legal team on their website here: https://www.eubankslegal.com/

Here is just a small snippet about them from their website:
William Eubanks recognized the continued need for a firm of this kind to ensure that nonprofit organizations, environmentalists, scientists, journalists, and activists would have their important perspectives represented in court. The firm’s attorneys strive to use the law creatively to protect public lands, wildlife, rivers and wetlands, natural resources, animals in captivity, and public health, as well as to continue aggressive use of open government laws and other statutes intended to serve the public interest in transparency.  “

They are absolutely AMAZING to work with! The wealth of knowledge and experience they have is what we need most right now!

I have to be honest, I AM EXHAUSTED!!!

To be clear, NO ONE on our board is paid for the work we do.  No one on our board is reimbursed for any of their time, gas, park passes, camera equipment, phone calls or TIME. 

This is clearly written in our founding documents.  We want to make sure that 100% of all donations go directly to help EACH AND EVERY wild horse living in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and to ensure that the wild horses of TRNP continue to survive and thrive for generations to come. 

Obviously, our greatest expense at this time is our legal bills.  We also have monthly bills for our website, email, general office supplies, etc. 

For me, Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates President and Founder, my biggest donation is my time in the form of the countless hours I spend getting you the best information for our current advocacy work.  Right now, due to the significance of this wild horse management plan, the better part of my days are spent working to make sure that this whole process goes smoothly and with as much support as we can rally!

I am begging you to PLEASE make a donation to help support our advocacy efforts.  This wild horse management plan is an extremely huge and detailed process.  The horses NEED people like Eubanks and Associates to help us successfully navigate through this process to make sure they FINALLY get the proper management plan! This will be a long and detailed process! 

If you have already donated, THANK YOU!  LITERALLY EVERY DOLLAR COUNTS!

Sharing our posts helps too!  It helps a much wider audience see the amazing advocacy work we are doing for each and every one of the wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home!

Below are some ways that you can support our advocacy work!

Thank you for your support!

Simply click on the “Donate” button on any of our posts or on the home page of our Facebook page!

Make Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates your Amazon SMILE choice! https://smile.amazon.com/gp/chpf/homepage/ref=smi_chpf_redirect?ie=UTF8&ein=86-1262476&ref_=smi_ext_ch_86-1262476_cl&fbclid=IwAR1iKA-OoVS5Fi5UX1hqkvTD_KVF6mAAtOn1eFOi5d6WhlcC_tVzXGW9HoU

Make a direct donation to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates! We have added quick donation buttons starting at $5 on the homepage our website! http://www.chwha.org

Donate to our Go Fund Me Campaign! https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-chasing-horses-advocacy-efforts?member=15293411&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer

We have been certified and verified as a nonprofit through Paypal! You can donate to us through Paypal here: https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=YM4YWW5D4CRRY&fbclid=IwAR05vEvFkOq4eiOrT6Ufm4WlRCYclSli-k6Uu5_mxKHwoJoS57dFRnsekBY

Mail in your check or money order donation to:
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates
P.O. Box 3562
Dickinson, ND 58602

Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is a 501 (c )3 organization. We promise that 100% of your donation will go to fight to make sure that wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park continue to be represented with as much of the historical and genetic diversity as they can with what remains.

Show your support to CHWHA with a purchase of this adult T-shirt featuring 2020 Colt Boomer. Available in adult sizes S-2XL. $3 additional charge applies to 3XL shirts. Price includes $5 shipping and handling fee

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Wild Horse Management Plan Process

We thought it might help give some insight into this wild horse management planning process, which we expect will take two years to complete. 

We are currently in the beginning stages of the horse management planning process. TRNP has come forth with “Draft Alternatives,” which are merely proposed strategies for managing the herd in the future. Importantly, the list of alternatives proposed by TRNP is NOT exhaustive; members of the public have been explicitly invited by TRNP to propose additional alternatives. We are NOW in the middle of the public comment period where we can (and should) propose different alternatives than those listed by TRNP (i.e., how and why you think TRNP’s wild horses should be managed going forward).

TRNP’s development of the wild horse management plan, including its alternatives analysis, is proceeding according to a federal law known as the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). Under NEPA, TRNP is required to take a “hard look” at ALL of the environmental impacts of and alternatives to its proposed action (i.e., the development of a management plan). For proposed actions that have a “significant” environmental impact, like this one, the agency MUST prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”). Where it’s unclear if the environmental impact will be significant (which is not the case here), federal agencies may prepare an Environmental Assessment (“EA”). 

Since the TRNP’s 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, we contend that this plan will in fact entail “significant” environmental impacts. As such, we believe that the park should be encouraged to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) instead of an Environmental Assessment (EA). An EIS is typically a more in-depth environmental review than an EA. For example, when TRNP developed an Elk Management Plan in 2008-2010, they prepared an EIS. You can view the EIS that was prepared for the Elk Management Plan here: Parkplanning – Final Elk Management Plan/EIS (nps.gov)

Once the current public comment period closes, TRNP will begin analyzing and comparing the environmental effects associated its proposed alternatives, as well as those alternatives proposed by members of the public.  Once TRNP has completed this analysis, which they said will be in Spring of 2023, they will share their DRAFT NEPA document with the public (AGAIN WE WOULD ENCOURAGE YOU TO COMMENT THAT YOU PREFER THEY CONDUCT AN EIS INSTEAD OF AN EA!). This will begin the second and final public comment period for this management planning process. 

During this second public comment period, they will let us know which of their proposed alternatives they decided to carry forward for further analysis in  either a Draft EIS or Draft EA (although we think an EA would be inappropriate). We will have the opportunity to comment on that document once it has been published by TRNP, and we will go into more depth about their analysis at that time.  

Once the second public comment period has been completed, they will begin preparing a final NEPA document.  That final document will be accompanied by either a Record of Decision (for an EIS) or a “Finding of No Significant Impact” (for an EA) where they will let us know which of the alternatives they decided to implement as their new horse management plan and why. 

We have two chances to voice our opinions on the way we would like TRNP to manage the wild horses.  While Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is very excited about the initiation of the highly anticipated wild horse management plan, we also know that navigating through this process is extremely complex.  THAT is why we have retained Eubanks & Associates, PLLC to help us navigate through this entire process. If you look at the EIS developed for the Elk Management Plan, we think you will agree that the wild horses of TRNP need someone on their side to help make sure that the best possible management plans are put in place to ensure that the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park continue to survive and thrive for generations to come. 

As always, please feel free to ask us any questions during this historic process.  We will do our best to answer you personally or create a post based on your questions and concerns during this process.

Thank you for your support!

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Exactly WHAT is it that is Wanted from the Wild Horse Population?

“Exactly what is it that is wanted from the wild horse population?”

That is a question that was asked back in 1978 by Milton Frei, the Range Specialist from the BLM that was sent in to evaluate the document that has been managing the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park since 1978.  

The actions of the park since 1978 show that they have never properly answered that question.  Admittedly, in part because the final answer to that question HAS to have public input!

It is FINALLY time to answer that question!

There is a TON of MIS-information going around about this management plan.  In all honesty and truthfulness, NONE of the organizations affiliated with TRNP have EVER gone through a process like this.  For that reason, Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates has retained legal counsel to help us properly navigate through this process.  We have done that because we KNOW how important this moment is!  The wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park have been waiting 44 years to FINALLY have that question answered! 

We are working with our legal team as well as American Wild Horse Campaign, because they have been through this process.  We plan to make posts regularly through this process as the sudden extreme increase in our website traffic shows that there is a desire for the truth.

Our lawyers sent a 15 page letter to the park that addresses many of the concerns we all share – you can find their letter in the “Library” section of our website.  They also cited several documents in that letter to back up what they are saying.  When you see “USC” that refers to United States Code.  “CFR” is the Code of Federal Regulations.  Federal documents such as those DO NOT need to be submitted as your supporting proof.  They simply need to be cited.  We are also working on a form letter that you can send in with your comments although we do believe your comment will have more impact if you develop your own personal letter.  Also, any documents cited in our lawyer’s letter that needs to be submitted as supporting documentation will be submitted to TRNP by Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates, along with our organization’s letter that our legal team will help us draft. 

We want to start by breaking down the newsletter and clearing up the basic common misconceptions:

We hope that ALL of you are questioning WHY the park is choosing to classify the horses as livestock and when they followed the proper NPS procedures to classify them as such.  As our lawyers pointed out in their letter, on TRNP’s own documentation, the horses are classified as “wild horses”, “feral horses”, “invasive species” and “livestock”.  Each classification bears its own set of rules and regulations it must abide by, BUT first, just like this management plan, the public gets to voice their opinion on how we want the horses that roam freely in our national park classified.  They owe us a satisfactory answer to that question, NOT the vague response they added to their wild horse portal.

If you look at the image above, you will see that TRNP states that they are working to define the best management practices to maintain a historic scene and then THEY referenced 36 CFR 2.6.  Theodore Roosevelt National Park was set up with a historical designation.  As our lawyers pointed out in their letter, TRNP park management is well aware of what the wild horses in this area looked like.  For this reason, the ONLY horses that should be re-introduced into TRNP are the Nokota horses.

The section above is VERY IMPORTANT AND PROBABLY THE BIGGEST SOURCE OF MIS-MANAGEMENT OUT THERE!!  THIS is NOT a democratic process!!!!  At the end of this, the park will NOT be tallying up the votes for one of their DRAFT CONCEPTS!!!  It clearly states that these are just initial talking points they are starting this discussion from!  It also CLEARLY  states that the March 30th meeting as well as the public comment period – which ends on April 15th will help them “REFINE VIABLE ALTERNATIVES” AND “It is expected that the alternatives below will evolve as a result of public input, which will then be thoroughly evaluated through the development of the Plan.” THAT MEANS TELL THEM WHAT YOU WANT FOR YOUR HORSES IN YOUR NATIONAL PARK!!!!  If you do NOT think that this herd of 180 horses should be knocked down to 30-60 – TELL THEM!!!!!  DO NOT SIMPLY ACCEPT WHAT THEY ARE OFFERING AND “VOTE”.  If you choose to do that, you will be missing out on this literal once in 44-year opportunity TO HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD!!!! MORE IMPORTANTLY – ASK THEM WHERE THE NEPA ANAYLSIS IS THAT SHOWS THAT 30-60 HORSES IS ALL THAT THE PARK CAN HOLD!!!  ASK THEM HOW THEY PLAN TO GET THE CURRENT HERD OF 180+ HORSES DOWN TO THAT RIDICULOUS NUMBER!!!

This section tells you HOW TO COMMENT!!!  In a nutshell – USE FACTS!!!!!  USE SCIENCE!!!!  You CANNOT say ABC organization did an XYZ study and found that XXX number or horses is the best answer.  WHERE IS THE PROOF?  THERE IS A WEALTH OF SCIENTIFIC PROOF IN THE 400 PAGE NAP REPORT THAT WE HAVE ADDED TO THE LIBRARY SECTION OF THIS WEBSITE!!! Our lawyers letter also gives ALL OF US a TON of information on where to get FACTS to support what you are saying.  You will notice that NO WHERE on this page are they asking for you to VOTE on which of their drafts they have published.  They know those will change!

SIGN UP FOR THE ZOOM MEETING!!!! SUBMIT QUESTIONS!!!!! EDUCATE YOURSELF IN THIS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT PROCESS!!!! QUESTION EVERYTHING!!!!

Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates is a nonprofit organization that was formed to advocate for the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Our amazing non-profit lawyer instilled in us that our nonprofit organization BELONGS TO THE COMMUNITY IT SERVES!  THAT means ALL of you!  The information we are sharing is to help everyone navigate through this process!  ALL of this has been initiated by our legal team because YOU, our followers, have asked for CHANGE.  CHANGE IS HERE!!! Now let’s make sure they hear us LOUD AND CLEAR as we present CLEAR, CONCISE, EDUCATED, SCIENTIFIC AND DETAILED COMMENTS THAT CAN BE SUPPORTED BY FACTS!!

Please feel free to continue to message us with any questions, comments or concerns you have regarding this extremely important wild horse management process at TRNP.  If we do NOT have the answer for you, we will ask our lawyers because THIS NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION BELONGS TO ALL OF US!

We will continue to share information as we receive it and do all we can to help ALL OF US navigate through this very critical process for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park! Please sign up to receive notifications on our home page when we update our website with new information!

Thank you for your support!

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TRNP Confirms NO ROUND-UPS or BIRTH CONTROL Until Management Plan is completed!

In case you missed this morning’s Fargo Forum!

https://www.inforum.com/news/north-dakota/plans-for-wild-horse-herd-at-theodore-roosevelt-national-park-range-from-no-change-to-no-horses

From Theodore Roosevelt National Park:

No horses will be removed from the park until the management plan has been adopted.

“We’re going to hold on anything until we get through our management plan,” said Maureen McGee-Ballinger, deputy superintendent. “So, currently we don’t have any plans for spring,” when horse roundups usually occur.

Besides removing horses, the park service uses a contraceptive drug to control the herd’s population. Colorado State University was conducting research on the drug, administered by shooting mares with a dart, but is no longer involved in the program, she said.

We will have more to share regarding this exciting time! Be sure to check back soon!

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How Did We Get Here?!

After several failed attempts to open a dialog with the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, on June 22, 2021, we made our final plea to them.  Following is part of the correspondence from our last letter to then Superintendent Wendy Ross:

“We commend your staff for creating the new wild horse portal as a way of communicating with the general public.  We understand the emotions that surround these horses and the stress that constant questioning of their management has on your limited staff.  We are also asking that you not redirect us to that portal.  This is an attempt to open a line of communication specifically between our non-profit organization and TRNP park management.  If that is not something you can commit to, we will refer your responses back to our attorney to discuss other legal recourse. 

We understand that there are different federal guidelines for meetings in federal buildings than what our current state regulations are due to COVID.  We are open to meeting with you in person if that is allowed, or through a conference call via zoom or telephone at your earliest convenience. 

Thank you for your consideration.  We look forward to working with you for the health and well being of our wild horses. 

Sincerely,
Christine Kman
Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates”

We did receive a response from Wendy Ross on that day:

“Hi Chris –

Thank you for your email. The park will continue to communicate about the park horses through the horse communication portal (https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/feral-wild-horses.htm ). As I have stated in previous emails, it is the only equitable way to provide information to all stakeholders, ensuring that each group gets the same information at the same time.  

We have written a post on the communication portal concerning your request. If you have additional questions, please submit them via the portal. 

Take care, 

Wendy”

On July 26, 2021, we signed a retainer agreement with Eubanks and Associates. 

We have been communicating with our legal team for approximately 8 months now.  We should also note that this legal team came highly recommended to us by American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC).  We have been communicating with AWHC since August of 2020, when we first brought our concerns regarding the management of the wild horses in TRNP to their attention. 

Both AWHC & Eubanks & Associates NEVER simply took our word for the concerns we were raising.  Each group did their own individual research and came to their own conclusions.  Yesterday, while I was going over the last bits of the letter to the park with our lawyer, one snippet of our conversation really says it all. 

He simply said: “It is my job to tell you the truth.”

And he has – every step of the way.  Part of that “truth” is that if Eubanks & Associates did not feel that we had a strong case, they would not have taken us on as clients.  They had to do their own initial research to get there. 

Last fall, our attorney asked us, “What does a win look like for Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates?”

We discussed that in great detail and came up with our plans from there.

We discussed records that we wanted to get from TRNP through the Freedom of Information Act.  We have shared much of what we received, and an appeal is in process. 

Further discussions with our legal team included the following FACTS, with regard to the current wild horse management:

  • TRNP is in violation of several NEPA (National Environmental and Planning Agency) laws
  • TRNP is in violation of several of their own NPS (National Park Service) rules and regulations.

In all honesty, about a week before the announcement came for the new wild horse management plan, we were discussing our case with our legal team.  Our biggest concern at that moment was that the weather was getting warmer, and we felt that captures were inevitable.  We asked our legal team to switch focus from the FOIA appeal to this letter that we shared with you yesterday.  FYI – that letter is now in library section of our website.

Our talks included the facts that TRNP and the NPS are well aware of the successful litigation history of Eubanks and Associates with regards to wild horse advocacy issues.  IF our lawyers were to decide to litigate against TRNP, those costs would have to come from TRNP’s own operating budget.  Meaning, there is no NPS “pool” of money to cover litigation costs.  This is something that TRNP would like to avoid, if possible.

Our lawyers also stated that with the number of violations that TRNP & NPS park management know that they are in violation of, the EASIEST way that they can fix those would be to start the process of formulating a wild horse management plan. 

And within two weeks, that is EXACTLY what they did!

When TRNP announced their wild horse management plan last week, we had several conversations with our lawyer – mostly about IF we still wanted them to send the letter anyway. 

We decided that we did.   The letter was already written for the most part.  There were a few points changed to reflect the announcement of the new management plan.  More than anything, this letter outlines EXACTLY how we (ALL OF US) need to shape our comments AND what documentation we need to submit when we comment on the management planning website. 

We will go over that subject in more detail tomorrow. 

We hope this helps you understand the extensive amount of advocacy work we have been doing – ESPECIALLY for this extremely important part of our advocacy work.  We also hope this helps you see the competency of our legal team and WHY we need them with us every step of the way through this management planning process. 

Now, if TRNP park management would like to take us up on those offers we have made to open some form of communication outside of their portal, they can work that out through our legal team. 

Our advocacy work for these horses is far from over!  There is STILL A LOT that needs to be done to ensure that these amazing wild horses are able to continue to survive and thrive for future generations!

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!

Please support our advocacy efforts!  There are several ways that you can help support us list here on our website: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support!

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ROUND-UPS SUSPENDED!!!!!!! Boomer (and the other 180+ horses in TRNP) are SAFE (for now)

As promised – we have another advocacy update for you and this one is HUGE!!!!!!!

We have added a 15-page letter that was emailed TODAY and sent via certified mail to Theodore Roosevelt National Park Acting Superintendent Angie Richman. 

As you can see, our lawyers have done their homework!

In light of the information shared in this letter, we would fully expect that there will NOT be ANY additional removals or administration of GonaCon (or any other form of birth control) to ANY of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park – UNTIL, at the very least, their own required rules and regulations are adhered to.

We hope this helps all of you sleep a little better tonight!  Because of all of your help, support and dedication to this herd, the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park are safe while we make sure a that they are FINALLY given a proper Wild Horse Management Plan.

We will have more to share tomorrow letting you know how to incorporate this into the public comment section of the management planning website.

Thank you for your support and please help us support the amazing work that our legal team has done!

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Have you signed up yet?

Have you registered for the ZOOM meeting to discuss the future management plan for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park?  You can pre-register for the event here: https://empsi.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Xm0AeNRoQ5G2-9NAwDEC5Q

When you register, you are also allowed to submit questions at the time you register.  This is leading us to believe that they will NOT be taking questions on that day but simply answering pre-submitted questions.

THE WILD HORSES OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK NEED YOUR HELP NOW MORE THAN EVER!!!!

This management plan has been over SEVENTY YEARS in the making!  These horses need you to be their voice to make sure the proper things get into their management plan!  We created a post a few days ago with important information during this first of many comment periods for the development of the management plan.  You can view that post here: https://chwha.org/2022/03/18/wild-horse-management-plan-comment-time/

PLEASE make sure you are commenting on the management planning website: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=167&projectID=105110&documentID=119270&fbclid=IwAR2FTyFLa2gOMqgcw39Qtb_EjFcCoKkZIhVvN-nkGnXZkdMFv8oKc8MP8nY

IF YOU HAVE ANY SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS – PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU SUBMIT THEM AS WELL!!  Website links DO NOT COUNT AND WILL NOT BE LOOKED AT!!!

As promised – we have a couple of exciting advocacy updates for you!

Here is the first one!

I had the EXTREME pleasure of speaking with Dr. Castle McLaughlin yesterday!  It was so awesome to hear her stories of the history of the horses in TRNP!  It was also disheartening to both of us to see the same devastating patterns continue to repeat over the years with regards to the proper management of the wild horses of TRNP.   She was Curator of North American Ethnography at Harvard for 25 years! Her specialty is the historic and contemporary American west, especially the Plains.  She is an anthropologist who focuses on the American west and has conducted research with both Native and ranching communities in North Dakota.  Castle also co-founded the Nokota Horse Conservancy (with Frank & Leo Kuntz) and was Vice President for many years. Of course, she is also the author of the research paper “The History and Status of the Wild Horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park” which can be found in the library section of our website. 

After about 2-1/2 hours on the phone yesterday, we both know we will be staying in touch as she is committed to rejoining the world of much needed advocacy for the wild horses in North Dakota!

My heart was extremely happy yesterday!! We are still sharing and exchanging information via email and this morning; this was part of an email I received from Castle:

“I’m very grateful for your advocacy for the horses and so impressed with your ability to identify and address the key issues-and then take appropriate and impactful action.”

I am extremely humbled to have someone of her stature say those words to me.  We are eternally grateful to her for all of the hard work and dedication she has given to wild horses in North Dakota, both in TRNP & the Nokota horses, that laid the groundwork for our advocacy work today. 

We have one more exciting update coming either later today or tomorrow so be sure to check back!

Thank you for your support!

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The Wild Horses of TRNP are FINALLY Getting A Management Plan!!!!

Have you checked out the PROPOSED “concepts” for the management plan for the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park?

This is part of the newsletter they released last week. 

PLEASE NOTE THE INTRO PARAGRAPH:  

The alternatives below are draft concepts, and the purpose of the public meeting on March 30 is to receive input to refine viable alternatives for consideration by the NPS. It is expected that the alternatives below will evolve as a result of public input, which will then be thoroughly evaluated through the development of the Plan

There is A LOT of crazy information coming out about this so once again – PLEASE READ THEIR WORDS:


IT IS EXEPECTED THAT THE ALTERNATIVES BELOW WILL EVOLVE AS A RESULT OF PUBLIC INPUT.

The horses are on federal land and belong to ALL of us!  They have been waiting SEVENTY YEARS for a proper management plan! 

THE WILD HORSES OF THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK NEED YOUR HELP NOW MORE THAN EVER! 

We have added a bunch of information about how to add comments and documents to the public comment section.  Please read our blog (https://chwha.org/2022/03/18/wild-horse-management-plan-comment-time/)and make sure you are having your voice heard at this current public comment part of the planning process.  This is just the first of many that the park is REQUIRED to hold as they move through the process of developing a management plan for the wild horses. 

As we have stated before, the days of “The park will do what it wants to do” is over!  Our lawyers are helping us make sure of that!  They will be working with us through this ENTIRE process.  The process is expected to take 2-3 years to complete. 

Thank you to everyone who has come forward to donate to help make sure this plan is done properly and in the best interest of the viability of these horses!  There are several ways you can donate listed here: https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Thank you for your support and stay tuned for another exciting update early this week!

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Horse Heritage Lost?

We have had the extreme pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people on this advocating journey! This is a short list – just to name a few of them!

Frank Kuntz, a man and advocate that has led by example through his tireless passion for the advocacy of North Dakota’s wild horses.

Robert Utley, another amazing man who actually wrote the National Park Service Policies and later went on to challenge the direction the NPS was going INCLUDING how the policies he helped write were being violated by Theodore Roosevelt National Park Management.

Patrick Springer, yet another amazing man and passionate North Dakota wild horse advocate and journalist.  The link to this article has been added to our library and helps paint the picture of just how critical this moment is for the wild horses in TRNP.

Castle McLaughlin, an amazing woman who we have had the extreme pleasure of meeting in person when Frank introduced us.  Yes!  The same Castle, who to date is THE ONLY person to research the history of the wild horses in TRNP.  The same Castle who wrote the paper that is in our CHWHA online library.  The same Castle who is now retired from her years at Harvard’s Peabody Museum.  The same Castle that sent me this article today! 

You know, moments like these really make you realize how insignificant all the naysayers out there are.  

We are truly blessed to be in such good company and have such wonderful support! 

We hope you enjoy this article.  Watch for more from Patrick Springer very soon 😉 For now, please enjoy this article from 2008:

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Wild Horse Management Plan – Comment time

The wild horses have been part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park from the time they were accidentally fenced in when the border fence of the park was put up in the 1950’s. 

THEY HAVE NEVER HAD A PROPER MANAGEMENT PLAN!!!

That is all changing NOW!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park announced the initiation of the new management plan for the wild horses.  I will add the links, but please note, I have had issues with the links opening in Chrome but have not had issues in Internet Explorer.  If you get an error page, please try a different browser.

First things first – there is a Zoom Meeting on March 30, 2022 at 6 pm MST.  You can pre-register for the event here: https://empsi.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Xm0AeNRoQ5G2-9NAwDEC5Q

Second, there are several different proposals in their newsletter that announces this new management plan.  Please note: Our legal team, that is very well versed in all aspects of wild horse management and wild horse advocacy, calls this their “scoping document”.  What is listed here as part of their “options” does NOT mean that ANY of these will end up being the final plan.  This is where public comment becomes sooooo important!

Our lawyers have done their homework, so we have a lot to cover here.  We want to note a few things about this public comment process:

  • Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates will be creating a very long submission with documentation to support what we are asking to be considered in this management plan.  We are including a condensed version of that here.
  • PLEASE submit any supporting documents that you may have that support any suggestions you are making.  THEY WILL NOT CLICK ON LINKS!!!! If the supporting document, you have is on a website – YOU HAVE TO CREATE A PDF FILE FROM THE WEBSITE AND SUBMIT THAT!  Think of this as submitting “evidence” – EVEN if you KNOW the park has a copy of something or even if it is document they produced themselves – YOU HAVE TO ENTER IT HERE TO MAKE SURE THAT IT IS LOOKED AT FOR THIS PROCESS!  The Administrative Procedure Act protects us during this process but ONLY if your information is submitted properly. Your comments on the planning page have NOTHING to do with the virtual meeting!  MAKING A COMMENT DURING THE VIRTUAL MEETING DOES NOT REPLACE THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS PUBLIC COMMENT WEBSITE!!
  • What we are offering here are suggestions for you to submit.  Some/All/None of these may be important to you – and that is fine!  We ARE asking that you do not simply cut and paste all of this and put it into a comment.  “Blanket” comments are not going to be as impactful as your own unique comment.
  • A website has been created where all public comments will be taken throughout this process.  The current public comment period is open through APRIL 15, 2022 at 11:59 PM MST. https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=167&projectID=105110&documentID=119270&fbclid=IwAR2FTyFLa2gOMqgcw39Qtb_EjFcCoKkZIhVvN-nkGnXZkdMFv8oKc8MP8nY

Key points to make:

(1) Although the Park considers these horses to be “livestock,” it has never explained why they are designated as such, especially since these animals have been roaming free there since well before the Park’s establishment. The distinction is important.  The wild horses in TRNP are VERY different than the long horns.  We believe that there should be a separate wild horse management plan, more importantly the park should clarify how the horses got this distinction.  This is one point that we did not get a response from in our FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.  This is important because it dictates the way the horses are managed.  Here is one of many citations from our legal team discussing this point:

  • The TRNP’s classification, however, runs counter to the plain language of the NPS’s implementing regulations. Although those regulations do not define “livestock,” that term generally refers to domesticated animals. See Livestock, Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (7th ed. 1967) (“[A]nimals kept or raised for use or pleasure.” (emphasis added)); see also 43 C.F.R. § 4100.0-5 (BLM regulations defining “livestock” as “species of domestic livestock – cattle, sheep, horses, burros, and goats.” (emphasis added)). By contrast, here, there is no indication that the wild horses found in the TRNP are domesticated in any way; that is, they have never been fed, sheltered, or cared for in any way by the Park. And, while these horses may be descendants of domesticated animals, the Park itself refers to the modern population as “feral”— a term that, by definition, means these horses are no longer “domesticated or cultivated.” See Feral, Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (7th ed. 1967) (“[O]f, relating to, or suggestive of a wild beast”); see also Wild Horse EA at 1 (characterizing the TRNP herd as “feral”); Foundation Document at 36 (same). Moreover, as mentioned above, wild horses have roamed free across North Dakota’s Badlands (and, specifically, the Park area)—without human intervention—since well before the TRNP even existed. See Horse Background, supra.

(2) As far as all of their “proposals” with several different targeted herd sizes, Gus Cothran, the leading wild horse geneticist in the US, has stated time and time again that 120 horses MINIMUM are what is needed for a genetically viable herd.  If you mention this, please make sure you google Gus Cothran and submit one of the papers where he mentions this with your comments.  This point is also supported by Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s own 1978 Environmental Assessment, which they are currently using to manage this herd:

  • During its evaluation of the potential impact of different herd reduction strategies, NPS invited Milton Frei, a Bureau of Land Management (“BLM”) Range Conservationist specializing in wild horses, to comment on NPS’s proposed action. See BLM, Wild Horse Herd Evaluation Report for Theodore Roosevelt National Park (1977) [hereinafter BLM Report]. In broad terms, Mr. Frei observed that “[t]he habitat in [the TRNP] can best be described as excellent for wild horses,” meaning “that the park could support a much larger population of wild horses without adverse impacts upon the soil or vegetative resources as well as other wildlife species.” Id. at 1 (emphases added). He also noted that the NPS’s determination regarding the “‘optimum numbers’ of wild horses” on the TRNP is, “for the most part, an arbitrary and administrative decision” by the NPS. Id. at 3.

(3) The park has in the past tried to introduce “new blood” by taking horses that are not native to North Dakota and hoping they would be successful here.  These efforts have proven to be an epic failure every single time!  IF any horses are introduced as “new blood” we believe that Theodore Roosevelt National Park should ONLY consider the horses that help the park maintain it’s pledge for historical significance and re-introduce the Nokota horses to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  I spoke with Frank Kuntz about this on Wednesday and he is STILL willing to work with the park to re-introduce the Nokota horses.  Both TRNP and Frank Kuntz have enough genetic information on their respective horses to make sound choices when it comes to the re-introduction of the Nokota horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Our lawyers further argue:

  • The TRNP is well aware of which types of horses best represent those that “existed in the park during the park’s period of historical significance,” or were “commonly used in the local area at that time.” Id. 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,” and recorded “the genealogy of the extant herd.” See Castle McLaughlin, The History and Status of the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park at viii (Dec. 1989), https://bit.ly/365UtUy [hereinafter “Castle Report”]. Based on extensive archival research and numerous interviews, the report ultimately recognized that the horses found in the TRNP were descendants of two closely related stocks (ranch and Indian), which, together, represent a type of “original” Badlands horse. Id. at 244; NPS, Natural Resources Management Plan and Continued Environmental Assessment at 46-47 (1984) (referring to the TRNP horses as “a historic badlands horse herd, with the animals being direct descendants of the horses which were found here when the park was founded”).

This historical lineage traces all the way back to the horses surrendered by Sitting Bull in the late 1800s. See Castle Report at 70. For this reason, the Castle Report recommended that the TRNP take care to manage the herd in a way that preserves this historical lineage. See id. at 250-52.

(4) It is NOT specifically mentioned but needs to be addressed and voiced: the use of birth control.  We will NOT say that we are apposed to the use of GonaCon.  We are opposed to them using a one and done shot that permanently sterilizes ALL mares.  IF current experiments with this dosage prove to be safe for our horses, we believe this could possibly be a great alternative for older mares with bloodlines that are well represented.  We are opposed to the TRNP herd being the subjects of any further experimentation.  Other uses of birth control need to take genetics, and bloodlines into consideration.  Other wild horse programs have demonstrated the success of administering birth control to mares on a rotating basis.  This also helps prevent the risk of permanent sterilization known to be a concern of many forms of birth control for wild horses.

(5) A successful birth control program SHOULD mean that there is a reduced need to cull the herd.  We also understand that the herd may still need to be culled from time to time.  When the herd is culled, quite simply, science and genetics need to be the driving force in the decision-making process.  This is why the classification of these horses is important.  There are National Park Service polices that dictate proper management for every classification. TRNP needs to STOP managing these horses as if they are nothing more than a number. 

These are 5 points of many that we feel are important to be included in the new horse management plan.  Please feel free to use any or all of these in your own personal comments on their website.  Your comments and their newsletter can be found here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=167&projectID=105110&documentID=119270&fbclid=IwAR2FTyFLa2gOMqgcw39Qtb_EjFcCoKkZIhVvN-nkGnXZkdMFv8oKc8MP8nY

REMEMBER!!!! PUBLIC COMMENT IS ALLOWED THROUGH 4/15/2022! 

THESE HORSES HAVE WAITED SEVENTY YEARS FOR THIS!!! THEY NEED YOU TO BE THEIR VOICE! PLEASE ATTEND THE ZOOM MEETING AND MAKE SURE YOU ADD YOUR COMMENTS TO THE WEBSITE BEFORE 4/15!!!  DON’T FORGET TO INCLUDE YOUR SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION!!!

This is our chance to make sure that the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park continue to survive and thrive for generations to come!

After trying to work with the park on NUMEROUS occasions over the last few years for the proper management of this herd, we hope that the small snippets we have shared from our legal team help show the importance of having this team help us through this process.  Please consider making a donation to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates to help support our advocacy efforts!! https://chwha.org/support-chwha/

Our lawyers have made it clear repeatedly in their communications with Theodore Roosevelt National Park that CHWHA is still committed to working WITH them to ensure the viability of the herd. 

Thank you for your support and feel free to email us or comment with any questions or concerns. 

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Celebrating a WIN today!

We just got notification from Theodore Roosevelt National Park that they are in the beginning stages of a Livestock Management Plan that will include the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park!

This has been over 70 YEARS in the making and we want to say THANK YOU to ALL of you for your help and support in FINALLY getting the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park a management plan!

As much as we are all doing a Happy Dance right now, we know that THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING!!! Public comment and support are EXTREMELY important during this LONG process!  We have attached a copy of their newsletter to the top of the “Library” section of our website you can also read it here: https://chwha.org/library/  Our lawyers call this the initial “scoping” letter in their planning process.  We believe that there are other things that should be taken into consideration.  We are working on both our own comments that we want included into this planning process as well as a blanket comment that our followers can use as a guide for their own public comments. 

THIS IS OUR CHANCE TO HAVE OUR VOICES HEARD!!  WE NEED YOU NOW MORE THAN EVER!!!

Please understand that this change has come about because of all of YOU being the voice for these horses that cannot speak for themselves!  We are BEGGING you to NOT STOP NOW! 

Take a moment to celebrate but KNOW our noses are staying stuck to the grindstone on this!  We will have more to share in the next day or so on this and other aspects of our advocacy efforts. 

THANK YOU!!!!! THANK YOU!!!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!! We could not have done this without you!

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Will They Stay Wild & Free?

Last year on March 22nd, with absolutely no notice, the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park started culling horses from the park. 

The park generally targets the younger horses, aged 4 months old to 3 years old.  They ONLY manage the horses by number of horses in the park with no regard for science and genetics to ensure the viability and health of this herd.  Based on the past management practices of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, there are currently approximately 70 horses in this age group that will be captured and auctioned off.    

We have been working hard in our advocacy work for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, but we need your help!

Since these horses are NOT protected under the Wild Horse & Burro Act, we are trying to get legislation introduced into Congress through the Natural Resources Committee, similar to the Shackleford Banks wild horses under Public Law 105-229.  Since our ND Congressman, Kelly Armstrong, does not serve on this committee, we have reached out to his peers for their support.  We are thankful that TWO members of congress on this committee have responded to us – Congresswoman DeGette and Congressman Cohen!

We believe this is an amazing opportunity for Congressman Armstrong to help protect the wild horses in his home state.  We are excited to have potentially found TWO members of the Natural Resources Committee that that can help our congressman make this happen!

Please contact Congressman Kelly Armstrong’s staff member, Mary Christy.  You can call Mary at Congressman Armstrong’s Fargo office at (701) 353-6665.

When you call, we suggest you say something like this: 

 “Hi my name is ____ and I am a constituent living in [City/state]. I’m calling because I’m concerned about the wellbeing of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I ask that you please ensure these horses get the federal protection they need, similar to the way that Public Law 105-229 protects the Shackleford Banks wild horses.”

You do not have to be a resident of the state of North Dakota to advocate for the wild horses in our state’s national park by calling our congressman.  However, we are really encouraging our North Dakota followers to make sure they take the time to call in because Congressman Armstrong represents the people of North Dakota. 

Second, as spring quickly approaches, so does the promise of warmer weather.  We believe captures are imminent.  We have no idea what the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park has planned for the wild horses in terms of captures this year.  Their consistent lack of transparency means that we probably will not find out again until the day of they begin the captures.  Yes, this does go against several of the National Park Service’s own policies, but after years of reigning unchecked in their “management” of these horses, our legal team is FINALLY calling them out on this and many other NPS and NEPA violations.   

The United States National Parks belong to everyone!  We are asking that you call Theodore Roosevelt National Park directly!  We have a right to know what their culling plan is for this herd!  You can call TRNP at (701)623-4466.  If you do not get to talk to a live person, feel free to leave a message!

You can say something as simple as:
I am a concerned patron of your park that would like you to disclose your wild horse culling plans for 2022 including who you are targeting and when you plan to start the removals.  I am also asking that you use science and genetics when you decide which horses to cull from the herd.” 

We know that this is an emotional subject but ask that you be courteous and respectful to the people you speak with on both of these calls.  More than likely the person you will talk to has no control over any of these issues. 

There are several other advocacy efforts we are working on.  We believe that all of these together are bringing about the much-needed awareness to the years of mismanagement of this herd!  Change is inevitable! 

WE CANNOT DO THIS WITHOUT YOUR HELP AND SUPPORT!!

Please, consider making a financial donation to support Chasing Horses Wild Horses Advocates (CHWHA) as we continue to fight for the humane management of the wild horses in TRNP.  We fully believe in our legal team and appreciate their hard work and dedication.  That work understandably comes at a cost.  Our next round of legal fees is expected to be in the area of $7,000.  There are several ways you can make a donation to CHWHA listed on our website. 

We understand that not everyone is able to help support our advocacy work financially.  Sharing our posts also helps bring awareness to our advocacy work and may help us find other people who can help. 

Thank you for your support and check back soon for more updates!

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“A single horse is not a bloodline, it’s an Individual”

Stallion Yoakum/Wind Dancer

The line in today’s title was used by the NDBH follower who was chosen to try to discredit the work being done by our organization us this week on our Facebook page.  We talk a lot about bloodlines being lost and what she is saying is that none have been.  Once again, let’s remember that opinions are NOT facts.  Let’s explore some facts:

Stallion Wind Canyon died a few years ago. He has no offspring in the park.  He DID have brothers and sisters that shared the same sire: the late Stallion Cocoa, the late Mare Molly, and the late Mare Stormy.

Stallion Wind Canyon

Mare Molly has one offspring in the park: Mare Opal.  Opal gave birth once and the baby did not survive. She has not had a baby since. Given the FACTS that Colorado State University HAS shared: mares return to fertility within 4 years of receiving GonaCon and the FACT they shared that they developed a 4-dose blend of GonaCon that was perfected on the TRNP horses that permanently sterilizes mares, common sense would say that Opal may be permanently sterilized. 

Mare Stormy has 3 offspring still in TRNP: 2011 Mare Juniper, who to our knowledge has not had a baby since 2016 and then insert the same above regarding GonaCon and permanent sterilization.  The other two she still has in the park are 2019 Colt Applewood and 2020 Filly Pixie.  The ONLY reason those two are still in the park is because of Covid and the drought.  They CAN still be captured and sold as they are in the age the park generally targets.

Cocoa left us plenty of offspring.  Let’s see how that is working out:

Mare Escape has only Stallion Ollie Jr as offspring in TRNP.  She has not foaled that we are aware of since 2016, so the same above applies regarding GonaCon & Sterilization.  Since Ollie Jr is a new band stallion, he doesn’t have much in the park to carry on this line.  One of his offspring were captured and sold in 2019.  That leaves 2019 Colt Applewood, 2020 Filly Pixie, 2020 Filly Jewel, 2020 Filly Bess, and 2021 Colt Sterling.  All of them are at the age the park targets for removals. 

2007 Mare Maddie has no offspring in the park and has not foaled while we have been documenting this herd since 2016.  Please insert above for GonaCon/possible sterilization.  

2013 Mare Mischief foaled in 2016 and has not foaled since.  Please insert above for GonaCon/possible sterilization.

2010 Mare Maiden HAS foaled just about every year that we have been documenting these horses.  The only offspring she has that is still left in the park is her 2021 Colt Knight.  Since they have taken every other baby of hers and the park admits not using science and genetics, why do we think they will leave this one? 

2013 Mare Democracy has also foaled just about every year that we have been documenting these horses.  She currently has 2 offspring in the park: 2020 Colt Bart and 2021 Colt Winchester.  Insert above under Mare Maiden about taking every baby she has.

2014 Mare Skipper has also foaled several times since we have been documenting these horses.  Her only offspring currently is Colt Arey.  Please insert above from Mare Maiden about removing her all of her babies.

2011 Mare Juniper – see Mare Stormy above.

2013 Stallion Trooper.  Trooper currently has no known offspring in TRNP.

IF there were roundups, like the NDBH’s “extensive advocacy” work that was talked about in these comments, went on as usual, the ONLY horses that would be left to carry on this bloodline would be Stallion Ollie Jr and Stallion Trooper.  The others would have been captured and sold.

Now the fear is how many of our horses have been permanently sterilized?  Those two stallions have no chance of carrying on this bloodline without viable mares.

This person also stated that she felt that the experimentation that went on involving the TRNP horses to produce a method of birth control that permanently sterilizes mares was a great thing.  I will agree with her in this sense: IF the BLM or the NPS were in any way transparent with the public, there would be a place for a one and done method of sterilization that would be great for older mares whose bloodlines are well represented.  If you think that the BLM or the NPS can be trusted to NOT permanently sterilize every single mare they can get their hands on, well, let’s just say we are not that naive. 

More than likely the BLM is already putting this plan into motion: https://returntofreedom.org/sulphur-complex-utah-update-totals-reach-350-captured/

No where in that article does it state that the ages of any of those mares or that only older ones were treated with GonaCon.  We believe there is no question on the dose they are giving. 

This is why it is equally upsetting that TRNP park management has been giving all of the mares in TRNP aged 8 months old and up GonaCon.  Again, if older mares aged 15 and up have bloodlines represented and are now permanently sterilized, that is good in our eyes.  If they just permanently sterilized a bunch of 8-month-old fillies, that will be detrimental to this herd. 

In the FOIA request sent to the NPS by our lawyers, we asked for records on the administration of GonaCon on the mares in TRNP.  Since they did not give us a list of who was getting GonaCon, along with the dates they gave any doses to any of the mares, we have to assume that they are not keeping records on that.  If they were, they would have had to give them to us under the laws of FOIA OR they would have to explain WHY we did not get those records.

If you want to believe that they simply “remember” who they have given GonaCon to and when, here is a short story for you.

Blake McCann, the Chief of Resource Management for TRNP – who has been in charge of the round ups and contributed to the GonaCon “research” came into our store when we first opened in 2019.  The first photo shown here of Yoakum/Wind Dancer was hanging on the wall.  He asked us who that horse was.  When Wind Canyon had to be euthanized and he came to meet us where he was, he asked us who Wind Canyon was (see photo #2) and also wondered if his injury was from fighting with “that horse” – aka Stallion Trooper. 

If the park management doesn’t know who these two very unique horses are within the herd, please tell us how they can tell the difference between the three gray mares in Stallion Sidekick’s band (photos 3, 4 & 5).

Factually, for this line, she is correct.  We have NOT lost this bloodline – YET!  We hope this helps you see what a critical time this is for this herd.  The simple lack of the use of science and genetics to manage this herd in ANY way is putting the future of these horses at risk.  Please see our blog posts with information on who to contact at Congressman Kelly Armstrong’s Office to FINALLY get these horses protected. https://chwha.org/2022/03/01/please-contact-congressman-kelly-armstrongs-office/

Thank you for your support!

Featured

Please contact Congressman Kelly Armstrong’s office

As promised, we have another update on our advocacy efforts. 

Wild horses that reside in land that belongs to the National Park Service are NOT protected under the Wild Horse & Burro Act.  That leaves the management of the horses to the discretion of the NPS management in that park. 

A few months ago, we spoke with the president of the non-profit group that advocates for the Shackelford Wild Horses that reside at Cape Lookout National Seashore.  They had similar concerns in their herds past as we do now with the TRNP horses.  They were fortunate enough to have a federal legislator step up and help get The Shackleford Banks Wild Horse Protection Act signed into Public Law 105-229. 

This prompted us to speak with our federally elected representative.  We reached out to our North Dakota Congressman Kelly Armstrong’s office a few weeks ago.  Mary, the congressman’s staff we spoke with, told us that Congressman Armstrong would be happy to support any legislation to protect the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  Unfortunately, his office was not aware of any current legislation.  When we let his office know that we would like the congressman to take the lead on this, their response was that: “Unfortunately, Congressman Armstrong does not serve on the Natural Resources Committee.”  They suggested that we find someone on one of the Congressional or Senate Natural Resources Committees to work with the get legislation enacted to get the TRNP horses protected. 

We took the advice we received from our congressman and sent emails to members of the congressional and senate Natural Resources Committees. 

Last week we received a response from Congresswoman Diana DeGette’s office and were able to set up a Zoom meeting with one of her staff members. 

The staff person we spoke with said that if Congressman Kelly Armstrong was willing to take the lead to get our horses protected, he would be willing to bring it to his boss, Congresswoman Diana DeGette, to see if it was possible for them to work together so she could bring it before the Natural Resources Committee and hopefully get the TRNP horses protected.

We believe this is an amazing opportunity for Congressman Armstrong to help protect the wild horses in his home state.  We are excited to have potentially found a member of the Natural Resources Committee that that can help our congressman make this happen!

Please contact Congressman Kelly Armstrong’s staff member, Mary Christy.  You can call Mary at Congressman Armstrong’s Fargo office at (701) 353-6665.

When you call, saying something like this is all that is needed: 

 “Hi my name is ____ and I am a constituent living in [City/state]. I’m calling because I’m concerned about the wellbeing of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I ask that you please ensure these horses get the federal protection they need, similar to the way that Public Law 105-229 protects the Shackleford Banks wild horses.”

You do not have to be a resident of the state of North Dakota to advocate for the wild horses in our state’s national park by calling our congressman.  However, we are really encouraging our North Dakota followers to make sure they take the time to call in because Congressman Armstrong represents the people of North Dakota. 

Thank you for your support and please feel free to share your responses with us!

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Advocacy Update 2/28/2022

Hello and Happy Monday to everyone!

As promised, we have an advocacy update for you!

Our legal team sent a FOIA request to the National Park Service (NPS).  We received an answer, that really did not address the documents we requested.  We were told that this was all of the communication we would get regarding this FOIA request and how to file an appeal. 

As we previously shared, they did give us a copy of a Categorical Exclusion form that they filled out on 9/8/2020 stating that they would be giving every female horse aged 8 months old and up GonaCona as a method of birth control.  We believe that they knew what the public reaction would be, so they chose this method to get approval to administer GonaCon.  They informed the public of this decision on their portal on 9/9/2020.  Since we know that Colorado State University (CSU) has been or may have already perfected their single dose permanent sterilization of GonaCon, along with CSU & Theodore Roosevelt National Park’s history of not being fully transparent with the public, knowing that this is the method of birth control they have chosen to treat our female horses with is bothersome.  We will admit this could be beneficial for older mares.  Our fear is that some of the youngest members of this herd may now be permanently sterilized. 

Then we made a blog post where we talked about the birth control and our FOIA request.  We also shared this information:


“Our FOIA request also asked for records with any data relating to the administration of GonaCon on the horses.  Since the National Park Service considers our FOIA request fulfilled, and we did not receive any records of which fillies and mares have been given GonaCon, we have to assume that the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is not practicing proper record keeping when it comes to who has been treated with GonaCon since 2020.  For clarity: IF the records existed, they would have to release them to us under the FOIA guidelines.  If they have them, but are withholding them for some reason, that would have to be explained.  Since neither were done, we are left to believe they simply are not keeping track of who they have given GonaCon to and when.  You would think that makes it difficult to know when the booster should be given and to which horse.”

A few days later, our lawyer reached out to us.  He was a little confused because he received new correspondence from the NPS regarding our FOIA request, after they previously stated that the information we requested was “granted in full”. 

This correspondence included the clarification for the following from our original FOIA request:

“(2) Any and all records, including surveys, regarding how NPS determines that an excess number of horses exists on the TRNP such that roundups and removals of those horses are necessary; under this category, Chasing Horses is seeking records matching the above description from 2015 to the present.”

Their updated response was:

“In regards to section 2 of your request, there are no NPS records responsive to the removal of horses from the park.”

First of all, we were honored to learn that the regional office that oversees TRNP is apparently taking the time to read our blogs. 

Second, we can’t say that we are surprised to have the park admit there is no logical system for the choices they make to remove the wild horses in TRNP, but there is still an air of shock in their nonchalant admission that they are not doing things according to their NPS or NEPA policies. 

Third, of course our lawyers are appealing our FOIA request. 

We have more to share on another vein of our advocacy work, so please check back soon! 

Please, consider helping support Chasing Horses Wild Horses Advocates (CHWHA) as we continue to fight for the humane treatment of the wild horses in TRNP.  We really cannot do any of this without your help and support.  We fully believe in our legal team and appreciate their hard work and dedication.  That work understandably comes at a cost.  Our next round of legal fees is expected to be in the area of $7,000.  There are a number of ways you can make a donation to CHWHA listed on our website. 

Thank you for your support and check back soon for more updates!

Featured

Study in North Dakota explores fertility control in mustangs

This article is for those of you who wonder why we started a nonprofit group when other nonprofits that claim to advocate for the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park already exist.  We have also been questioned as to WHY we started a new nonprofit vs working WITH existing groups toward their advocacy goals. 

Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates believes that Theodore Roosevelt National Park is in desperate need of a wild horse management plan for the wild horses entrusted to their care.  TRNP has been managing ONLY the number of horses in this herd, without taking science and genetics into account when they make decisions to cull the herd.  This management plan should also address the much needed administration of birth control, instead of their current and past plans which have both included giving every mare birth control to giving none of the mare’s birth control. 

Today I want to bring your attention to this article that was written in March of 2016, 5 years into what would become Colorado State University’s 11 years of experimentation on the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND. You can read the article in its entirety here: https://www.horsetalk.co.nz/2016/03/13/studies-north-dakota-fertility-control-mustangs/?fbclid=IwAR1XeyMc1kbkuorYheeyXO3USsNAvy68SNlTPd4evdSFPjRf5MQf_gbLj6A

From the article:

The issue of fertility control in wild horses has divided wild horse advocates. While some see it as a potentially effective and humane way to control numbers, others are vehemently opposed, worried about potential health risks and the effects of the drugs on behaviors and herd dynamics.

The project, in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, is one of two Colorado State University (CSU) studies examining elements of wild horse contraception in the US western rangelands.

A team led by researchers from Colorado State University’s Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory were trekking through the badlands of North Dakota this week to deliver the GonaCon doses.

The project stems from the team’s success studying GonaCon in both captive and free-roaming elk in Rocky Mountain National Park in 2005. That work sparked an interest to test the drug on horses as part of a study launched in 2009 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Two researchers from the university, Dan Baker and Terry Nett, were awarded a five-year Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grant to find an optimum GonaCon revaccination schedule to suppress fertility in wild horses long-term.

The team has received about $160,000 in funding for the first two years.

“We hope this study will help cut down on the amount of scheduled roundups the park has to do – and perhaps they won’t have to do them at all if the vaccine proves effective and we find the correct dosing schedule that works for the park’s herds,” said Baker, who is an affiliate faculty member in the university’s Department of Biomedical Sciences.

That’s the point we want to get to, but no-one has ever done this before.

In the second project, researchers are in the early stages of work to develop and test a new contraceptive vaccine that could permanently sterilize a mare after a single dose, circumventing the challenges of administering repeated doses for long-term fertility control.”

Also from the same article:

A longtime park volunteer and technician for the university’s research project, Marylu Weber, created the North Dakota Badlands Horse Registry with her husband in 2009.

The nonprofit adoption program partners with the park to assist with low-stress captures and with finding pre-screened homes for removed horses, thus avoiding the need for public auctions.

“Without intervention, it would be difficult to keep up with the captures and adoptions of so many horses,” Weber said. “CSU’s research is very important to the management of the park’s horses and has huge potential to impact wild horse management all over the world.”

Weber, who has been keeping track of the park’s horses since she began riding there in the 1980s, helps train new technicians on how to find and identify the horses in the study, take measurements, and collect data.”

I suppose that knowing that these nonprofit groups were formed to advocate for the wild horses in TRNP, I often wondered how they seemed to be ok with CSU injecting the pesticide GonaCon into the wild horses they proclaimed to advocate for.  I also often wondered if/when their organizations became aware that CSU’s ultimate goal was to create a dosage of GonaCon as a method of birth control that would permanently sterilize mares.  It would seem by Marylu’s comments for this article, that answer would be at least 2016.

Then something else came across my computer screen last week in a web search: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marylu-weber-51a1b870

This is Marylu Weber’s Linkedin profile.  You will see that it was created in 2008 and she lists her experience as a Field Data Researcher at Colorado State University/Theodore Roosevelt National Park since 2008. 

CSU began their study at TRNP in 2009.

Coincidence?

Then there is this from NDBH’s website:

“The non-profit North Dakota Badlands Horse Registry was established to register, promote, appreciate and preserve the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota that are unique to the area.

The North Dakota Badlands Horse Registry was granted 501 (C) (3) status on 11/12/09.”

Again, CSU began experimenting on the wild horses in TRNP in 2009. 

That seems like quite the string of coincidences, doesn’t it?

Marylu has been a staunch advocate for CSU and their “very important research” and also TRNP park management’s methods of culling the horses.  She has admittedly and very vocally proclaimed that her organization does not question the park because, after all, the park DOES know what they are doing.

We also agree the park knows EXACTLY what they are doing to the wild horses entrusted in their care.  

Now we know why the existing nonprofit groups and their members do not speak out about the experimentation and lack of management for the wild horses of TRNP.  They are apparently all on the same side. 

Working under the guise of their nonprofits, along with Colorado state University and Theodore Roosevelt National Park management they have worked hard to not only eradicate the wild horses of TRNP, by working hard over the years to help TRNP park management realize their wild horse goal of 35-60 horses, from the current herd size of 180.  CSU, with the financial backing of the BLM, can now take their years of “research” out to the western range and apply their proven sterilization methods to wild horses everywhere. 

We hope this answers the questions on why we refuse to work with organizations such as these and why Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates will never stop our advocacy work for the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

These wild horses need someone who is actually on their side. 

Featured

Call to Action – The Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park Need Your Help!

Last year on March 22, 2021, Theodore Roosevelt National Park announced on the horse portal on their website that they were beginning captures of the young horses at 8 am THAT DAY!

While the park has not mentioned anything on the horse portal for this year, we anticipate that captures will be starting again soon this year. You can view their horse portal here: https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/feral-wild-horses.htm

While we understand that it is necessary to cull the herd, we have asked repeatedly that TRNP follow their own National Park Service Guidelines and use science and genetics as a guide when they cull the herd. 

We have also shared our concerns regarding the 11 years of experimentation that Colorado State University was allowed to do with the horses in TRNP, as they perfected the use of GonaCon as a method of birth control with the ability to permanently sterilize horses.

The constant culling of the youngest members of the herd, the concerns regarding how many of our mares are now permanently sterilized, combined with the natural aging of these horses has made Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates deeply concerned for this herd ability to survive and thrive for generations to come. 

We have spoken with our North Dakota Congressman Kelly Armstrong.  His office has stated that he would support legislation IF it was presented.  Sadly, he does not serve on the House Natural Resources Committee.  The suggestion from his office was to contact the members of that committee and express our concerns. 

Public Law 105-229 was created to protect the Shackleford Banks wild horses that are managed by the National Park Service, the same as the TRNP wild horses, in Cape Lookout National Seashore.  We are asking that the TRNP horses receive the same protection. You can read more about them here: https://www.shacklefordhorses.org/timeline.htm

We have complied a list of congressman and senators on their respective committees.  We have also listed the state they represent, although as a member of this committee, you do not need to be a constituent of their state to contact them.

Because many of you have asked, we have created a short email that you can send and sign your name to.  If you prefer to call their offices, their phone numbers are also listed below.  Please make sure you let them know that Congressman Kelly Armstrong supports protecting the wild horses in his home state of North Dakota. You can also copy Congressman Armstrong’s office on your emails: Mary.Christy@mail.house.gov

We will keep you updated on our progress. Thank you for your support!

Here is an email template you can use. Feel free to customize it!

I am writing to you today to ask that legislation be introduced to make sure ALL of our wild horses are protected.  The wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, just like any other United States National Park, are NOT protected under the Wild Horse and Burro Act.  I am asking that these horses be given protection in the same manner that the wild horses of the Shackleford Banks from the Cape Lookout National Seashore are under Public Law 105-229.

The issues facing the wild horses within Theodore Roosevelt National Park could easily be addressed with a wild horse management plan.  The park has never had a management plan for these horses.  They have repeatedly promised a management plan to the public but somehow have failed to put one together in almost 70 years.  The latest promise was that the process would begin in the fall of 2021.  I am still waiting for the public hearings to begin on that process.  Past practices do not help provide any optimism on the probability of a wild horse management plan for the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The travesties the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park have faced are a direct result of there not being any laws in place to protect them. 

North Dakota Congressman Kelly Armstrong has stated that he will support legislation to protect North Dakota’s wild horses.  Unfortunately, he does not serve on the Natural Resources Committee. 

We are hoping that you will see the value of the true iconic national treasure we have in the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and help enact legislation to protect them.  It has already been done for the Shackleford Banks wild horses in the Cape Lookout National Seashore, who are also under the jurisdiction of the NPS.  I believe that the historical significance of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park are equally worth protection.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Contacts for the House Natural Resources Committee:

Congressman Jared Hoffman, California: contact: Anthony Montoya – email: Anthony.montoya@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-5161

Congressman Mike Levin, California: contact: Oliver Edelson – email: oliver.edelson@mail.house.gov. Phone: 202-225-3906

Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez, New Mexico: contact: James Green – email james.green@mail.house.gov and Rachel Montoya email: Rachel.montoya@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-6190

Congresswoman Julia Brownley, California: contact: Meghan Pazik – email: meghan.pazik@mail.house.gov. Phone: 202-225-5811

Congressman Michael San Nicolas, Guam: email: Michael.sannicolas@mail.house.gov. Phone: 202-225-1188

Congressman Ed Case, Hawaii: contact: Kainan Miranda – email: kainan.miranda@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-2726

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, Michigan: contact: Tom Clancy – email: tom.clancy@mail.house.gov.
Andrew Goddeeris – email – Andrew.goddeeris@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-5126

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, California: contact: Morgan Leonard – email: morgan.leonard@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-5256

Congressman Joe Neguse, Colorado: contact: Abbie Callahan – email: abbie.callahan@mail.house.gov. Phone: 202-225-2161

Congresswoman Katie Porter, California: contact: Evie Kirschke-Schwartz – email: evie.kirschkeschwartz@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-5611

Congresswoman Diana DeGette, Colorado: contact: Nikki Roy – email: nikki.roy@mail.house.gov. Phone: 202-225-4431

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, Michigan: contact: Timothy Heubner – email: timothy.huebner@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-4071

Congressman Darren Soto, Florida: contact: Andrea Valdes – email: andrea.valdes@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-9889

Congressman Jesus Garcia, Illinois: contact: Lanette Garcia – email: lanette.garcia@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-8203

Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Minnesota: contact: Rebecca Taylor – email: Rebecca.taylor@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-5076

Congresswoman Lori Trahan, Massachusetts: contact: Elya Taichman – email elya.taichman@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-3411

Congressman Bruce Westerman, Arkansas: contact: Janet Rossi – email: janet.rossi@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-3772

Congressman Louie Gohmert, Texas: contact: Graham Wise – email: graham.wise@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-3035

Congressman Rob Wittman, Virginia: contact: Curran Smolinsky – email: curran.smolinsky@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-4261

Congressman Garret Graves, Louisiana: contact: Taylor Playforth – email: taylor.playforth@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-3901

Congresswoman Jennifer Gonzalez Colon, Puerto Rico: contact: Gabriel Bravo – email: Gabriel.bravo@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-2615

Congressman Pete Stauber, Minnesota: contact: Andrew Morley – email: Andrew.morley@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-6211

Congressman Blake Moore, Utah: contact: Paul Johnson – email: paul.johnson@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-0453

Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, Colorado: contact: Mike Curto – email: mike.curto@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-4761

Congressman Cliff Bentz, Oregon: contact: Briana Connolly – email: briana.connolly@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-6730

Congressman Don Young, Arkansas: contact: Nicole Desrochers – email: Nicole.desrochers@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-5765

Congressman Doug Lamborn, Colorado: contact: James Thomas – email: james.thomas@mail.house.gov.  Phone 202-225-4422

Congressman Tom McClintock, California: contact: Kyle Campbell – email: kyle.campbell@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-4101

Congressman Jody Hice, Georgia: contact: Nathan Barker – email: Nathan.barker@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-4101

Congressman Daniel Webster, Florida: contact: Jessica Thompson – email: Jessica.thompspn@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-1002

Congressman Russ Fulcher, Idaho: contact: Matthew Keenan – email: matthewkeenan@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-6611

Congressman Tom Tiffany, Wisconsin: contact: Henry Allen – email: henry.allen@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-3365

Matt Rosendale, Montana: contact: Jason Hoffman – email: Jason.hoffman@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-3211

Congresswoman Yvette Herrell, New Mexico: contact: Doug Levine – email: doug.levine@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225-2365

Congressman Jay Obernolte, California: contact: Reid Dagul – email: reid.dagul@mail.house.gov.  Phone: 202-225—5861

Contacts for the Senate Natural Resources Committee:

Senator John Barrasso, Wyoming: contact: Brad Bunning – email: brad_bunning@barrasso.senate.gov. Phone: 202-224-6441

Senator Maria Cantwell, Washington: contact: Megan Thompson – email: megan_thompson@cantwell.senate.gov.  Phone: 202-224-3441

Senator Martin Heinrich, New Mexico: contact: Maya Hermann – email: maya_hermann@heinrich.senate.gov.  Phone: 202-224-5521

Senator Catherine Cortex Masto, Nevada: contact: Connor Higgins – email: connor_higgins@cortezmasto.senate.gov.  Phone: 202-224-3542

Senator John Hickenlooper, Colorado: contact: Julia Barry – email: Julia_barry@hickenlooper.senate.gov.  Phone: 202-224-5941

Senator James Risch, Idaho: contact: Ayla Neumeyer – email: ayla_neumeyer@risch.senate.gov.  Phone: 202-224-2752

Senator Mike Lee, Utah: contact: Sam Crofts – email: sam_crofts@lee.senate.gov.  Cole Lacroix – email: cole_lacroix@lee.senate.gov.  Phone: 202-224-5444

Senator James Lankford, Oklahoma: contact: Valerie Manak – email: Valerie_manak@lankford.senate.gov.  Phone: 202-224-5754

Senator Bill Cassidy, Louisiana: contact: Cole Simons – email: cole_simons@cassidy.senate.gov.  Phone: 202-224-5824

Senator Cindy Hyde Smith, Mississippi: contact: Christopher Miller – email: Christopher_miller@hydesmith.senate.gov.  Phone: 202-224-5054

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TRNP and Nokota Horses

We were asked a question about the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and what genetics or lineage they have in common with the Nokota horses we visited with Frank Kuntz this week.

There is a shared lineage.  Most people say the TRNP horses are “cousins” to the Nokota horses.  When Castle McLaughlin was paid by TRNP to research the history of the wild horses in the park, her research concluded, and there are paper trails of proof to back her up, that the horses that were in the Medora area when the park was fenced in came a couple local ranchers who in turn bought and bred Sitting Bull’s horses when he surrendered at Fort Buford.

The difference between Frank’s horses (the Nokota breed) and the TRNP horses is that Frank and Leo started to buy the horses from the Theodore Roosevelt National Park BEFORE they introduced new blood and impacted the unique genetics that make our North Dakota horses special. 

When we met Frank, most of our talks about the horses revolved around shared experiences we each have had with the park, even though there are more than 40 years between our individual experiences. 

Then as time went on, we started actually going through TRNP with Frank and watching the horses in the park.  Frank and I said down a few months ago and had a different conversation.

I told Frank that we believe, from our documentation and observations of the herd in TRNP, that because of the lack of human interference with the horses due to Covid and the 2021 drought, that the herd is starting to heal itself.  We discussed that it is starting to heal itself from years of the babies being culled year after year, and years of some of the mares on birth control because of the CSU experiment now FINALY able to have babies.  Years of them being out of balance in so many ways – sex, numbers, age, etc., it seems like nature is trying to restore balance within the herd.  I told him that one thing I had been noticing in particular is that for every Nokota horse you show me, I can show you a horse in TRNP that shares those characteristics.  Frank said he was noticing that too. 

I asked him if he thought that it might be possible that over time, the Nokota traits might come back as the dominant trait among the TRNP horses?  He said he has been wondering the same thing. 

Is the herd truly repairing itself?  Could the Nokota traits once again become dominant within this herd?

Only time will tell and that is why timing is so crucial right now. 

We have had two years of limited human interference with the horses.  There is a significant difference in their behavior patterns now that there can be an actual evolving hierarchy within each wild horse band since most of the babies have not been culled from the herd.  You only have to sit with Stallion Flax and his band for a few moments to see this with Mare Dolly and their three children.

There are significant behavior pattern changes, whether we like it or not, with actually having bachelor stallions and them challenging the older band stallions.  There are also significant behavior patterns between the young bachelors and the older ones, as the older ones take on teaching roles to the next generation of band stallions.

Horses are a species and like any other species, including us humans, their ultimate goal is for their species to survive.  After years of TRNP park management dictating their survival, we believe that nature is showing us that there is a better way. 

All of that will be lost if the park goes back to blind round ups again of our youngest horses without taking science and genetics into consideration. 

If the park goes back to taking every young horse between the age of 4 months old – 3 years old, we will never know if the Nokota traits or any of the other imbalances within this herd will truly heal.

Once again, we will say that we understand that the current population of 180 horses far exceeds the park’s goal for wild horses in TRNP.  We understand that the park will have to cull some horses and that those horses will need good homes.  We applaud those of you who are able to give TRNP horses a wonderful new forever home.  That is not now nor ever will be our argument. 

Our argument is how can this herd survive and thrive for future generations if very little horses and very little genetic diversity is left in the park.

The 2018 research paper written by TRNP staff working alongside other very well-educated professionals talked about specific unique genetic traits within the TRNP horses as well as their need to address the inbreeding issues within the herd. 

Robert Utley, the actual man who helped write the current National Park Service (NPS) policies, has stated that the historical significance of the wild horses in TRNP as well as several NPS polices have been ignored and violated. 

Castle McLaughlin did extensive research, paid for by TRNP, on the history of the wild horses in the park.  Her research was pretty much ignored.

Both Castle and Robert Utley are known experts when it comes to Western American history and still their research and valid concerns have gone ignored by TRNP park management.

Genetic research on both the Nokota horses and some of the TRNP horses have shown that unique genetics do still exist and still TRNP park management turns a blind eye to the significance of both groups of horses.

TRNP’s own actions to introduce new blood on several occasions only to prove those outcomes to be an epic failure every time. 

11 years of experimentation on the wild horses in TRNP by Colorado State University (CSU) absolutely had an impact on the behavior of these horses, although those findings are absent from their reports.  They did manage to use our horses to find a way to perfect the pesticide GonaCon as a way to permanently sterilize wild horses on the western range.

According to information shared on the TRNP horse portal, the CSU experiment is finally over.  The park made its share of mistakes in the past.  They do not need to keep repeating past mistakes.  These horses are a state and national treasure, and it is time that they started being treated as such. 

We have attached photos to this post of both Nokota and TRNP horses – can you tell who is who?

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Why do the TRNP horses need a wild horse management plan anyway? Part 3

Mare Patches and her 2021 Filly Poppy – now 9 months old

While we are on the topic of a wild horse management plan for the herd in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND, we thought it would be a great time to share a document we received as part of our recent FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request.

On August 18, 2020, then TRNP Park Superintendent Wendy Ross sent an email to us and other wild horse stakeholders:

Hello Horse Stakeholders-

Theodore Roosevelt National Park has developed a communication portal where we will post all announcements/news regarding park horse management. The communication portal will answer questions in a continually updated FAQ page. The portal can be found here https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/feral-wild-horses.htm

Thank you for your interest in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, 

Wendy “

On September 9, 2020, they shared this announcement on their portal:

“September 9, 2020
To reduce foaling rates and minimize the number of animals that must be captured and sold annually to manage the demonstration herd size, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is administering GonaCon™ Equine immuno-contraceptive vaccine to all female horses ≥8 months of age. Contraceptives will be administered remotely by syringe dart, providing approximately two years of fertility control. The vaccine does not impact current pregnancies. Operations are planned to start in September of 2020 and be completed by December of 2021.

Most reproductive age female horses in the park have already received contraception as part of a study. Results of that research indicated that the vaccine is effective but temporary. This temporary fertility control will provide latitude as the park explores development of a new comprehensive herd management plan.

The vaccination does not preclude subsequent transfer of animals out of the park. Therefore, capture and auction operations will continue to provide ownership opportunities for interested parties.”

What we just uncovered through our FOIA request is this little piece of documentation that was NOT shared with the general public regarding the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND:

When the park decided to administer GonaCon as a method of birth control to all of the female horses in TRNP, they chose to categorically exclude this action from NEPA review by filing this National Park Service Categorical Exclusion Documentation Form (CE Form).  You will note that this document is dated and signed September 8, 2020 – one day before they TOLD us what they would be doing to our horses on their new horse communication portal where we were promised that TRNP park management would “post all announcements/news regarding park horse management.”

Apparently, the choice to give birth control, at an expense to the tax paying public of $7,575, to ALL female horses aged 8 months and up, is not an announcement TRNP park management felt warranted any public opinion or input. 

Please note their CE justification:

“Though the CE specifically cites “removal of park resident individuals”, versus contraception, the proposed action will prevent additional genesis of resident animals that would have to be removed to protect the park from overgrazing.”

It would seem from that we do not have to concern ourselves with the park performing any captures of our horses this year. 

We do not believe that for one second!

The CE Justification also states:

“This CE is appropriate in this situation because there are no extraordinary circumstances potentially having significant effects on the environment.”

Apparently giving two doses of GonaCon as a method of birth control to every female horse in the park is nothing to be concerned about. 

This is just another example of the lack of transparency TRNP park management has been guilty of since it became a national park.  Park management knew exactly what the public’s reaction would be to this decision, so moved forward with their clandestine contraception plan by utilizing this CE Form. 

One has to wonder how many other CE forms exist with regards to the wild horses entrusted in their care. 

Our FOIA request also asked for records with any data relating to the administration of GonaCon on the horses.  Since the National Park Service considers our FOIA request fulfilled, and we did not receive any records of which fillies and mares have been given GonaCon, we have to assume that the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park is not practicing proper record keeping when it comes to who has been treated with GonaCon since 2020.  For clarity: IF the records existed, they would have to release them to us under the FOIA guidelines.  If they have them, but are withholding them for some reason, that would have to be explained.  Since neither were done, we are left to believe they simply are not keeping track of who they have given GonaCon to and when.  You would think that makes it difficult to know when the booster should be given and to which horse.

IF there was a wild horse management plan in place, it would include a plan for humanely administering birth control using science and genetics instead of their latest tactic to continue to control the NUMBER of horses.

This CE form speaks to the lack of transparency that TRNP park management has with the public.  While the limited information shared by Colorado State University (CSU) regarding their 11-year experiment on the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park suggests that GonaCon is effective but temporary, TRNP failed to share other CSU GonaCon “studies”.  Specifically, from 2015-2020 experimentation was done on domestic horses that proved that 4 doses of GonaCon worked well to sterilize mares.  That study has now given rise to a new experiment, as the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Research Background Materials for Advisory Board report that was released in June 2021 states (report can be found in the library section of this website):

“This study showed that this new type of fertility control vaccine could, in theory, sterilize mares. The four-shot version of the vaccine worked well, but now is being tested as a one-shot vaccine.”

The new experiment, as stated in this BLM report, explains:

“Pen trial building on project #5, test whether a one-dose version of the vaccine against BMP-15 and GDF-9 causes long-term infertility. BLM’s final Environmental Assessment (March 2020) describes the ongoing study at Northern Nevada Correctional Center. 16 mares were injected with vaccines and 16 with placebos, in May 2020. In theory, the mare may deplete her ovaries of fertile oocytes, thus becoming sterile.”

Data shows that GonaCon, SpayVac, GDF-9 and BMP-15 are designed to literally destroy the ovaries via injection of the substance there by shutting down a mare’s estrus cycle destroying the natural production of hormones which are known to have behavior consequences. https://www.thecloudfoundation.org/comments-and-articles/2021/4/23/draft-environmental-assessment-for-the-heber-wild-horse-territory-plan-18916

Further, TRNP Park Management failed to share this information from Dr. Dan Baker, who led the GonaCon experiment in TRNP from October of 2018 (https://cvmbs.source.colostate.edu/novel-study-shows-promise-for-managing-wild-horse-populations/):

“What’s the next step and ultimate goal?

Dan Baker, co-principal investigator and affiliate faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Sciences:

“This is an ongoing effort and additional research is needed to complete the study’s objectives. We now need to define the duration of effectiveness and determine if long-term or permanent infertility is a possible outcome. We also need to investigate the optimum revaccination schedule to maintain infertility and the safety of repeat vaccinations.”

“Ultimately, there is an urgent need to extend the results of our research with the individual horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park to test of GonaCon’s effectiveness in suppressing growth rates of other free-ranging populations.”

The other National Park’s with wild horses that have successful horse management plans in place include solid birth control plans that take science and genetics into consideration.  Why wouldn’t we want the same for the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park?

There are many other facts that support our concerns regarding why a wild horse management plan should be in place.  It is safe to say that Theodore Roosevelt Park management is also aware of that they SHOULD have a wild horse management plan in place.  Their standard answer to WHEN they would begin working on a wild horse management plan hasn’t changed in over 50 years: “We will begin working on the new wild horse management plan in the next 2-3 years.”  The current timeline, as stated on TRNP’s wild horse “portal” states: “The NPS will be initiating a new horse management planning process during fall of 2021. Updates on timelines will be posted on the portal.”

Once again, the public and the wild horses of TRNP are left to wait for the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park to simply do their job, per their NPS regulations, that they should have done 66 years ago.

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Why do the TRNP horses need a wild horse management plan anyway? Part 2

We have all taken note over the past couple of years how our beloved band stallions are beginning to lose their bands: 2004 Stallion Brutus, then 2001 Stallion Thunder Cloud, and the latest to join this group was 2001 Stallion Satellite.  We are now also seeing 2001 Stallion Red Face beginning to be challenged for his band as he lost 3 members of his band over the last few weeks.

Most of the stallions listed above are over 20 years old now.  They have gone unchallenged for years as the park as continued to senselessly cull the herd, with no clear plan of management for these horses, aside from the management of the actual number of horses in the park.  There have simply not been enough bachelor stallions to challenge the band stallions.

The last helicopter round up in TRNP was in 2013.  In 2014, in yet another stellar horse management move, the park did not remove ANY horses. 

Those 2014 “babies” are grown up now and want a band of their own.  No matter how much we are rooting for our favorite bad ass band stallion, the youth, strength, and stamina of a horse half the age of our older band stallions is proving that the youth are winning out as our older horses are finding themselves bachelors once again.  A role that many of them have not played for over 15 years!!  

Yes, it is all part of the circle of life and no matter how old the band stallions are when they lose their band it is hard to watch.  The difference is that these stallions trying to defend their bands at an older age is what causes the injuries we are seeing. 

The truth is, there SHOULD be more older bachelor stallions, like 2000 Stallion Circus.  They would be the ones teaching the new up and coming stallions as they prepare them to help this herd carry on. 

The significantly low number of bachelor stallions is not the only issue.  The herd is unbalanced in a number of ways.

When you look at the horses that were born in TRNP from 1998-2018 (the fate of the 2019-2021 horses remains unknown, so they are not included here) there are currently approximately 80 mares & fillies in this herd compared to approximately 29 stallions.  Those numbers should be closer to 50/50. 

There are also significant imbalances in the age of the horses:
            40 are between the age of 16-24
            31 are between the age of 10-15
            39 are between the age of 4-9

According to the specialists in wild horse management, the 3–9-year-old age group should be the largest.  In recent years, this herds largest group has been the older horses.  Since we started documenting this herd in 2016, we have lost about 14 horses from that older age group.  The older group is getting smaller.  NOT because of any type of management, because they are literally dying off, many leaving no offspring to carry on their bloodlines. 

IF there was a wild horse management plan in place, these imbalances would be addressed.  The other National Park’s with wild horses that have successful horse management plans in place have maintained well-balanced herds.  Why wouldn’t we want the same for the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park?

There are many other facts that support our concerns regarding why a wild horse management plan should be in place.  It is safe to say that Theodore Roosevelt Park management is also aware of that they SHOULD have a wild horse management plan in place.  Their standard answer to WHEN they would begin working on a wild horse management plan hasn’t changed in over 50 years: “We will begin working on the new wild horse management plan in the next 2-3 years.”  The current timeline, as stated on TRNP’s wild horse “portal” states: “The NPS will be initiating a new horse management planning process during fall of 2021. Updates on timelines will be posted on the portal.”

Once again, the public and the wild horses of TRNP are left to wait for the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park to simply do their job, per their NPS regulations, that they should have done 66 years ago.

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Why do the TRNP horses need a wild horse management plan anyway? Part 1

That is a good question!

If the image above is upsetting to you, that is one of the reasons why the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, ND need a wild horse management plan.  That photo was taken on 1/15/2022 at Theodore Roosevelt National Park of a mare that obviously has been darted with GonaCon possibly sometime within the few last months.  THAT is what has created what the people who have created the dart system and GonaCon dose refer to as a “slight abscess at the injection site”.

Before we begin, we would like to make it clear that we DO believe that the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park SHOULD be given birth control.  Our objection is to the way that Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) management working alongside Colorado State University (CSU) have been giving birth control to our mares.  There has never been any rhyme or reason to who was given birth control, there are many indications that mares have been permanently sterilized as a result of the ongoing experimentation and we now know that the because of the “study” on the horses in TRNP, CSU has been able to develop a “one and done” shot of GonaCon that can permanently sterilize mares with just one dose!  We also know that CSU will use this information as they continue their partnership with the BLM and take their new GonaCon “vaccine” to the western range. 

Now, back to the topic of the long awaited and highly anticipated Wild Horse Management Plan for the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The simple truth is that 66 years ago, when the TRNP park management realized that there were wild horses within the park boundaries AND they agreed to allow the horses to stay, there should have been a plan to manage the horses. That happened back in 1956.  To date, there has never been a formal wild horse management plan written – at least not one that can be accessed by the public.  There ARE documents that the park uses IN PLACE OF a wild horse management plan, but they are NOT wild horse management plans and were not produced in the same way that a wild horse management plan is required by National Park Service standards. 

IF there was a wild horse management plan in place, Colorado State University would not have been allowed to experiment on our horses to test the effects of the pesticide GonaCon as a method of birth control for 11+ years!

IF there was a wild horse management plan in place, there would be specific plans for administering birth control, that was agreed upon by the taxpaying public, instead of the parks current plan to give EVERY female horse aged 8 months old and up birth control.

IF there was a wild horse management plan in place, TRNP management and CSU would NOT have been allowed to perfect their development of a remote dart system that can be used on the western range, where they cannot be as close to the horses.  It is that new, larger dart coupled with the desired dosage of GonaCon, that is leaving marks like these on the treated mares in TRNP.

IF there was a wild horse management plan in place, we would not be sitting here wondering and worrying if the wild horses of TRNP are part of the “research” being funded by the BLM to the tune of $238,281 to perfect the one dose permanent sterilization of GonaCon. You can view the report in the library section of our website or here https://search.usa.gov/search?query=BLM+Wild+Horse+and+Burro+Research+Background+Materials+for+Advisory+Board%2C+June+2021&affiliate=blm.govdrupal&op=Submit

There are many other facts that support our concerns regarding why a wild horse management plan should be in place.  It is safe to say that Theodore Roosevelt Park management is also aware of that they SHOULD have a wild horse management plan in place.  Their standard answer to WHEN they would begin working on a wild horse management plan hasn’t changed in over 50 years: “We will begin working on the new wild horse management plan in the next 2-3 years.”  The current timeline, as stated on TRNP’s wild horse “portal” states: “The NPS will be initiating a new horse management planning process during fall of 2021. Updates on timelines will be posted on the portal.”

Once again, the public and the wild horses of TRNP are left to wait for the management of Theodore Roosevelt National Park to simply do their job, per their NPS regulations, that they should have done 66 years ago.

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What does the future hold?

2021 Colt Winchester and 2021 Colt Cadet

We spent the better part of the day at Theodore Roosevelt National Park yesterday.  Sunrise is my personal favorite time of the day to visit the park.  There is a peacefulness in watching the sunrise.  Adding horses to the landscape only enhances the beauty of any sunrise!

We were blessed to be able to spend some time watching these two colts play: 2021 Colt Winchester (Democracy x Remington) and 2021 Colt Cadet (Justice x Arrowhead). 

While most of the horses in the TRNP herd stay within their own band, it is always nice to watch the innocence of the younger horses as they give in to their curiosity and explore the world, and other horses, around them.  That is just what these two did yesterday!  Even more interesting was watching their fathers, stallions Remington & Arrowhead, casually keep an eye on their kids – almost both watching for their protection and also rooting their own kids on as they sparred with each other.

Moments like these also remind us that the future of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park is uncertain. 

Will Winchester and Cadet survive the impending roundups coming THIS March/April?  How many of the 70 horses born between 2019-2021 will survive the roundups this year? 

We understand that some of those 70 horses will have to be culled from the herd.  We are fighting hard with our legal team for the park to use science and genetics when they plan their removals.  Unlike other organizations who claim to advocate for this herd, we will NOT be blinded by our emotions and love for these horses and help the park continue to decimate this herd.  National Park Service (NPS) policies state that they must use science and genetics when removing ANYTHING – even a weed from the park.  We are simply asking that the NPS do their job and give the horses the same consideration they give to invasive weeds growing within the park boundaries. 

We need your help!  There are a number of ways that you can help us on our website (www.chwha.org), including making a one-time donation through PayPal.  As we stated, we are working hard with our lawyers and other national wild horse advocates, but we cannot do this without your help!  Our legal team is amazing, but they also need to be paid.  Your donation to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates will go directly to help us advocate for the horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home. 

Thank you for your support!

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Advocacy Update

Hello and Happy New Year to everyone! 

We wanted to update you on some of the things we are currently working on as we continue to advocate for the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

As we have mentioned before, we have hired a law firm to represent us.  They have done a thorough job of investigating our concerns and have validated them.  They are a well-known law firm in the wild horse world.  Their office is filled with lawyers with YEARS of experience dealing with the Department of the Interior (DOI) for issues with both the BLM and NPS. 

The first step they advised us to take was to FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) the park for certain records to help us navigate the next steps in our advocacy efforts. 

When a FOIA request is made, the government agency has 20 days to respond.  Not surprisingly, 20 days have come and gone, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park has not responded to our request.  This is why we have lawyers! Here is part of their follow-up letter written on our behalf:

“Following the submission of our FOIA request on November 30, 2021, the request was assigned tracking number “DOI-NPS-2022-000890.” To date, no records have been disclosed in response to our request. According to the FOIA online portal, our request remains under evaluation by DOI and no estimated date of completion has been assigned.

As you are likely aware, “FOIA contemplates that upon receiving requests for records, within 20 days, agencies will make determinations about whether to comply with the requests, and shall immediately notify the requesting party of the agency’s determination and its reasons.”

Contreras & Metelska, P.A. v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, No. 20-cv-1261, 2020 WL 6867411 at *6 (D. Minn. Nov. 23, 2020); see also 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6).1 As of this writing, DOI’s 20-day timeframe for responding has lapsed without a determination having been made. Accordingly, we are hereby requesting a date certain by which DOI will provide disclosures in response to our client’s request.

Chasing Horses would prefer to avoid time-consuming and expensive litigation over DOI’s delay in disclosing records. However, the information sought by Chasing Horses concerning the National Park Service’s management of wild horses is extremely important to our client, as well as to the public more generally. Should DOI fail to timely disclose the requested records, Chasing Horses will have no choice but to evaluate all its options, including litigation, for pursuing the information that FOIA requires the agency to disclose.

We appreciate your immediate attention to this matter and look forward to your timely response. Should you have any questions regarding this remand, please do not hesitate to contact me via phone or email.”

To be clear – roundups are inevitable this year.  We understand that the park does need to cull the herd. We DO NOT agree that TRNP park management’s target of 35-60 horses will leave a viable herd in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  We are asking that science and genetics be used vs capturing and auctioning off every horse they can, as they have for the past 7 years. 

Of course, proper culling of this herd would be addressed in a Wild Horse Management Plan that has been promised more times than anyone can count over the last 70+ years – including the latest promise that has now come and gone for the fall of 2021. 

We will keep you posted on our next steps.  We do need your help!  There are several ways that you can help listed on our website www.chwha.org

Thank you for your support and we will keep you updated on our advocacy efforts. 

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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 (https://chwha.org/trnp-wild-horse-timeline/) 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   
               space
               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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SCR 4011 – Part 5

Today we will be looking at the final testimony of SCR 4011.  The last two pieces of documentation in this proposed resolution are from Bob Fjetland and Marylu Weber.

In Bob Fjetland’s letter submitted to the committee, he asked that it be noted in the North Dakota court that he was a lifetime resident of Minnesota.  His biggest argument against the resolution was that the horses in the park were not called Nokota horses, as Leo Kuntz was credited with creating the Nokota name in 1990. 

Yes, this IS confusing, since in 2009 he was asking the court to allow himself and others to register the horses that were being captured and sold from the park as Nokota horses.  Passage of this resolution would have inadvertently labeled the horses in TRNP as Nokota horses. 

To review, this resolution was being introduced as:

“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. “

A newspaper article in The Jamestown Sun on October 29, 2007 states (full article is available to read in the library section of our website):


“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.”

Bob Fjetland went on to state:


               “The Nokota Horse Conservancy, and in particular Frank Kuntz, has demonstrated an ongoing effort to criticize, antagonize, and degrade management philosophies and efforts of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and it’s management of the horses.  This action can only be suspect, when considering what his motives may be.  As with all public servants, whether part of a Legislative Assembly, or a National Park Management Staff, you, and they, have a very difficult job to do.  The adversarial relationship promoted by Frank Kuntz and the Nokota Horse Conservancy has no place in this already difficult balance and should not be encouraged.  For the above considerations, I urge the Committee to fully research the issue, ask questions and Reject the Resolution “As Written”.

It should also be noted that Bob Fjetland was not only a resident of the state of Minnesota, but he was also a former president and co-founder of North Dakota Badlands Horse (NDBH) as well as the Nokota Horse Association before the birth of NDBH. 

Marylu Weber, current president of North Dakota Badlands Horse, had her own letter introduced in opposition to this resolution.  Some highlights from her letter include:

               “I feel the park personnel are doing what they can to proactively and responsibly manage the horses along with the other large species within the park.”

               “These horses are valuable historical assets to the park and to North Dakota because they are the last remnant of horse so essential to the livelihood of Native and immigrant people.  Preliminary ancestral DNA testing has shown them to have a variety of bloodlines including Spanish, Irish Thoroughbred, Scandinavian, other European and Asian bloodlines, as well as the more recent American breeds, Quarter horse, Rocky Mountain Pleasure.  They have survived in the badlands for over 100 years.”

               “I would like to see them preserved and appreciated by the people of this great state and nation.  However I urge you NOT to pass this resolution…”

Marylu went on to explain why, in spite of being a part of an organization dedicated to preserving the history of these horses, she was asking that this resolution be rejected.  The entire transcript of this committee hearing can be found in the library section of our website.

Marylu ended her letter to the committee:

               “If you want to recognize the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, even promote them as “legendary,” I would applaud that, but please do not call them by someone else’s breed name.  Let the Nokota people do their own promotion and quit harassing the park.”

If you are still as confused as we were when we read through all of this, meet us in the next blog post where we will discuss the outcome of this proposed resolution as well as the ramifications of this decision that was made in 2013 for the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

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SCR 4011 – Part 4

There is a need to interject here for a moment.  We have spoken often of Frank & Leo Kuntz, founders of the Nokota Horse Conservancy (NHC).  We also spoke in great detail about Robert Utley and Castle McLaughlin and their credentials.  A few new names appear in these hearings that need to be talked about too: Marylu Weber and Bob Fjetland.

The two friends were founding members of what is now North Dakota Badlands Horse (NDBH).  There is a story before the birth of NDBH.

The Nokota Horse Conservancy was founded in 1999.  In 2009, the NHC had taken Bob Fjetland, his wife Deb Fjetland, along with three others: David Bernhardt, David Robson and Nola Robson, to court over the use of the Nokota name.  You can read the entire court transcript in the library section of our website. 

The short story is that this group of people had formed an organization called The Nokota Horse Association.  They were using the same brand as the NHC and had also planned on registering the horses that were rounded up in the park as Nokota horses.  This included training horses captured from Theodore Roosevelt National Park and selling and breeding them to the public as Nokota horses.  Marylu Weber & Bob Fjetland were members of the Nokota Horse Association.

This lawsuit happened in the midst of a TRNP horse round up where the group of people represented by the Nokota Horse Association, led by David Bernhardt, former NHC board member, planned on using the Nokota name to help sell the captured horses from the park.  Judge Daniel Hoveland issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Nokota Horse Association from registering or promoting park horses as “Nokota”, pending the outcome of the court proceedings.  A newspaper article from October 21, 2009 states:
               “If they are not able to (label the horses) it will definitely affect the market,” said Larry Schnell of   Stockman’s Livestock Exchange in Dickinson, the horse sale venue. “For those that it means something to, they won’t pay if they can’t register them.”

Since Frank and Leo proved that the Notoka Horse Conservancy was the rightful owner of the Nokota name, that the Nokota horse was a specific breed that they have spent years preserving, and that the Nokota name could not be given to just any horse, they eventually won the lawsuit in October of 2009.

In November of 2009, Marylu Weber along with Bob Fjetland and others, started North Dakota Badlands Horse, a 501 (c)3 organization.  From their 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.”

Knowing this brief piece of history, it would seem that North Dakota Badlands Horse and its members would be in favor of the North Dakota Senate passing SCR 4011.  They were NOT.  It is interesting to note that both Marylu Weber and Bob Fjetland stood in opposition of a resolution that would essentially grant them rights to most of what they were fighting for in their lawsuit against the NHC in 2009.  We are just as confused as you are!

We will look at their testimony at this hearing next. 

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SCR 4011 – Part 3

Valerie Naylor was Superintendent of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in 2013.  She gave her own testimony.  Some highlights of her statement include:

“The horses are important to the park, and we have every intention of maintaining them in the South Unit into the future.”

“The horses in the South Unit today are descendants of ranch horses that roamed the badlands prior to the time when the park was fenced in the mid-1950s.”

“I want you to know that we do manage the horses in a responsible, careful, thoughtful, and science-based manner.”

When she spoke of the introduction of domestic stallions and the removal of dominant horses in the park, she stated: “We can’t change that now, and I don’t think we should second guess it.  Since the 1980s, we’ve learned a lot about genetics, the park horses and horse management.”

“The park has no desire now or intent now to introduce new horses or in any way change the appearance of the horses.”

“I want to stress that we know these horses well and we manage them carefully.  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.”

“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.”

Mike McEnroe, representing the North Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Society, also spoke in opposition of SCR 4011.  He stated that The Chapter supports what Superintendent Naylor stated and added:
              

“The Resolution is unnecessary and implies that the Park is not soundly managing the wild horse herd.”

The May 2009 interview with Former NPS Chief Historian, Robert Utley was handed out to the committee.  This interview can be found in its entirety in the library section of our website.  We have also spoke of Robert Utley, his work and his views on the TRNP horses in previous blog posts.  Most recently, we have had the pleasure of being in communication with Robert Utley.  With regards to Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates and our current legal correspondence with TRNP, he has stated to us that “to the extent of my limited abilities, I stand ready to help in any way I can.”

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SCR 4011 – Part 2

North Dakota State Senator Erberle introduced SCR 4011 to the North Dakota Senate.  He cited that the historical significance of the Nokota horse, especially since this breed of horse has already been recognized as the honorary equine of the state of North Dakota, justified the introduction of this resolution to the ND State Senate.  He also felt that honoring the historical significance of the Nokota horse went well with the state’s tourism slogan “Legendary”, adding that a “legendary park experience” could increase tourism for our state.  He called for Theodore Roosevelt National Park to manage the traits of the Nokota breed.  He added: “I think the park service and the Dept. of the Interior need to be made aware of our wishes here in N.D. and that is a part of our N.D. experience.”

Frank Kuntz spoke next as Executive Vice-President of the Nokota Horse Conservancy.  By 2013, Frank had already spent 30 years trying to preserve this breed.  Frank gave a brief history of the horses in the area, starting with the governments policy to eliminate the horses that belonged to the Native American people in the mid 1800’s.  He took the committee through the management of different superintendents in TRNP and spoke of the parks past policy to totally eliminate the horses in their park.  He talked about the public outcry that led the park to decide to keep the horses as a “demonstration herd”.  At the same time, they decided to change the appearance of the horses by taking out dominant studs and mares and introducing domestic stallions.  Frank disagreed with the NPS that genetic proof was needed to prove that the Nokota horse originated from this area.  Frank argued that there was enough historical research that has proven the historical significance of the Nokota horse, including the research done by Dr. Castle McLaughlin, and stated that the park was choosing to ignore the historical evidence. 

Frank ended his testimony by stating:

               “Please vote YES on Resolution 4011.  We need a National Park that follows its own laws regardless of the costs, hard work and numerous mistakes made.  These horses have an important, interesting and colorful history.  They deserve the right to be recognized for what they are.”

Frank also handed out a newsletter entitled “Thunderbear #280: “Now Just A Darn Minute!” which included interviews on the historical significance of the Nokota horses with Dr. Castle McLaughlin and Robert Utley, who the interviewer noted were “two of the premier experts on Western Americana in the United States”.  This document can be found in its entirety in the library section of our website. 

A letter was presented as testimony at the hearing from Janelle Ferderer from Linton, ND in support of SCR 4011.  She noted that on of the most “awe inspiring” experiences she ever had was watching the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  She spoke about the significance of the Nokota breed and their relationship to the state of North Dakota.  She added: “Our national parks have a responsibility to preserve history, not destroy it.”

Leo Kuntz spoke next as the President of the Nokota Horse Conservancy.  Leo passed out handouts showing the horses in the area competing in a horse race in Dickinson between 1882-1900.  The photo shows the winning horse with features that resemble those of the Nokota horse that was named “Croppie” or “Croppy”.  He also presented the committee with another handout from the Marmarth Messenger originally printed in 1938 that told the story of the photo he handed out of “Croppy”.  Croppy’s dam belonged to a Sioux Indian Warrior who fought at Little Big Horn.  Croppy was bought by the Marquis de Mores and eventually ended up on HT Huidekoper’s ranch.  The article tells the story of the race and what a unique and incredible horse “Croppy” was.

Leo also noted that many of the early writings of the horses from the area that is now Theodore Roosevelt National Park refer to the horses as being “bald-faced horses”, the exact horses targeted by TRNP as seen on another handout showing the cull list TRNP used in 1994.  Leo also stated that the University of Kentucky did an analysis of the blood type of the Nokota horses.  The results indicated that the ancestry of these horses leaned toward Icelandic horses and the Norwegian Fjord.

Leo shared another handout with the committee that documented the lineage of the horses to the area, as well as quotes from local ranchers that speak of the type of horse found in the area that is now Theodore Roosevelt National Park between the late 1800’s to the early-mid 1900’s.

Once again, the transcripts from this senate hearing can be found in its entirety in the library section of our website. 

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SCR 4011 – Part 1

On February 14, 2013, The North Dakota State Senate Natural Resources Committee heard arguments to introduce SCR 4011.

SCR 4011 was a resolution presented to the North Dakota Senate that was explained as:

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. “

The committee minutes regarding the introduction of SCR 4011 in the North Dakota State Senate, those in attendance in favor of the introduction of this resolution included:


               ND Senator Erbele from District 28, who introduced the resolution.

               Frank Kuntz, Vice President of the Nokota Horse Conservancy.

               Leo Kuntz, President of the Nokota Horse Conservancy.

               Tracy Potter who was a former legislator, former director of tourism and a historian.

               Shelly Hauge, Nokota Horse Conservancy.

               Christa Kuntz, Nokota Horse Conservancy.

In addition to these people speaking up in favor of preserving these historical horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, they also offered research, interviews and testimonies from Castle McLaughlin, Robert Utley and others to support the reasons why this resolution should be adopted.

Those in attendance that were in opposition of the adoption of Resolution SCR 4011 included:

               Valorie Naylor, who was the current Superintendent of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

               Mike McEnroe, representing the ND Chapter of the Wildlife Society.

               Marylu Weber, President of North Dakota Badlands Horse.

Included in the opposition was a letter written by Bob Fjetland, who identified himself as a lifetime resident of the state of Minnesota.

It was noted that this resolution was being presented to the ND State Senate and that the National Park Service was a Federal Agency.  Senator Triplett noted that even if they passed this resolution, the NPS would not have to do anything.

Frank Kuntz stated that he realized that but felt that passing this resolution would show that the state was concerned.

The hope was that if this was adopted at a state level, it would be easier to get legislators on a federal level to review and adopt a similar policy.

We will look at the arguments for and against this resolution as well as discuss the final outcome and its implications for the horses In Theodore Roosevelt National Park over the next few days.

The entire document is available to download in the library section of our website.

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The History and Status of the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Part 9

Castle McLaughlin does a great job summarizing her report in this final section of her research (file above).

Her final paragraph, written 32 years ago, speaks volumes:

“In sum, the National Park Service was not prepared to manage wild horses when the park was established in 1947, and no research had been undertaken to guide that process prior to 1987.  Park policy has changed from total elimination of the horses to the protection of a designated number; but more specific decisions regarding the herd have fallen upon the judgement of succeeding superintendents and staff.  Future decisions regarding the number and type of horses to be conserved, methods of herd reduction, the continuation of introductions, etc., are decisions pending study; such research must provide the basis for establishing policies and developing a Wild Horse Management Plan.”

That was written in 1989!  We are still waiting for a Wild Horse Management Plan.  The park’s “Horse Portal” states:

                ” Q5: When will a new horse management plan be completed?

A5: The NPS will be initiating a new horse management planning process during fall of 2021. Updates on timelines will be posted on the portal.”

Today, December 21, 2021, is the first day of winter.  There have been no updates to the plans for the start of the TRNP’s horse management planning process.  We also have no knowledge of any public forums for any discussion on the highly anticipated TRNP Wild Horse Management Plan. 

This takes us back to the blog that led into this one along with a very pertinent quote by Carl Sagan:

“You have to know the past to understand the present.”

To date, no one has done this amount of extensive and exhaustive research on the wild horses that call Theodore Roosevelt National Park home.  Castle went on to work for Harvard’s Peabody Museum as Curator of North American Ethnology.  We hope that the information she has shared in her research has helped you understand how important it is to know the past so that we can understand the present challenges facing the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. 

Once again, Castle’s full report is available to download in its entirety in the library section of our website: https://chwha.org/library/

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The History and Status of the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Part 8

This next section of Castle’s report talks about the genealogy of the TRNP horses.   This section is pretty straight forward.  Castle did a great job drawing lines and tracing the lineages of the horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  She also does a fantastic job documenting her research findings on the offspring of what she calls “notable lineages”.

We will wrap up this blog tomorrow with Castle’s last section and summary of her report.

Thank you for your support!

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The History and Status of the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Part 7

The file above continues the history of the management of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We have also created a timeline (below) for easy reference.

Castle concludes this section with a summary of the survey questionnaire she sent out as well as an overview of the general management of wild horses in the US. We have that file below for you to view.

Just a reminder, you can download Castle’s entire report in the library section of this website. https://chwha.org/library/

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The History and Status of the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Part 6

The file above continues the history of the management of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We have also created a timeline (below) for easy reference.

The next section of TRNP park management of the wild horses continues in the file below and covers the 1980’s.

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The History and Status of the Wild Horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park – Part 5

The file above begins the history of the management of the wild horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We have also created a timeline (below) for easy reference.

The next section of TRNP park management of the wild horses continues in the file below and covers the 1970’s.