Frequently Asked Questions About Horses


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Q1: Will I be able to obtain information (births, deaths, names, etc.) from the park on individual horses?

A1: Though the park has volunteered a wide variety of information on individual horses in the past, maintaining these details is not necessary for population level management, and the park will not be doing so in the future unless it is necessary as part of a research study or management action. In addition, the park will not be providing names for horses in the future, unless they are being adopted out, as naming helps in the adoption process.

Q2: Who can represent the park when speaking about horse management?

A2: Only authorized NPS employees may represent the NPS when speaking about horse management. The park will use this portal to share horse management information with the public. The park has no control of non-NPS social media or other web content published by private individuals.

Q3: Does the park still have formal or informal partnerships with horse interest groups?

A3: No.

Q4: Why does the park no longer respond to individual emails about horses?

A4: To ensure that no one is left out of communications, the park now uses the website to maintain a horse communication portal. These FAQs will be regularly updated to provide information about park horse management actions and answer commonly asked questions about horse management at Theodore Roosevelt NP.

Q5: When will a new horse management plan be completed?

A5: Development of a new management plan is a high priority for the Region and the park. The park must compete for National Park Service (NPS) national or regional funds to support the demonstration horse herd management plan development. While this management plan is a high priority for the park, staff time and capacity is limited. Other high priority management actions that park staff are currently working on include: road failure repairs, native species management, invasive species management, visitor use and facility upgrades planning, historic resource preservation, environmental impact assessments, wildlife disease prevention, and resource monitoring. Horse herd management is only a small portion of the duties and required actions conducted within the resource management program.

Q6: Will I be able to participate in management plan development?

A6: The National Park Service has a formal process for the development of management plans and their corresponding environmental impact assessments. The process includes opportunities for public input and review. Once the official management plan development and environmental assessment process has been initiated, the National Park Service will invite members of the public to attend scoping meetings and to share official public comments on the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment website. To learn more about this process please visit and Outside of the formal public comment process, all communication pertaining to horse management will continue to be addressed through the horse communication portal to maintain transparency, information consistency, and equitability.

Q7: How often is the FAQ page updated?

A7: The FAQ will be updated as soon as possible when questions are received through the active link on the portal. Horse management is only a small portion of the park’s overall management and visitor services responsibilities. Staff update the FAQ as time allows.

Q8: Why are park horses managed differently than horses managed by the Bureau of Land Management?

A8: As per 36 CFR § 2.60 (a) (3), park horses are maintained as a demonstration herd to represent a historic scene reminiscent of Theodore Roosevelt’s time in the Badlands of North Dakota. Livestock, including horses, is allowed on NPS lands to present a cultural scene. The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act only applies to animals on US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management lands.

Q9: Why have captures been postponed until further notice for 2020?

A9: Human health and safety are top priority. All park actions, including horse captures, are being analyzed in accordance with Center for Disease Control and state/local Covid-19 guidelines. Because pandemic statistics and risk factors are continually changing, park management actions are dynamic.

Q10: Why are animals targeted opportunistically for capture, instead of using either selective or random techniques that might avoid overrepresentation of some bands?

A10: At time of capture, park staff target animals based on location and band behavior presenting the best scenarios to ensure safety of staff and to provide optimal care of animals. These tenets hold priority over other management objectives.

Q11: Could introduction of new animals improve genetic health of the herd?

A11: This topic will be considered as part of the process for development of a new management plan.

Q12: Why are 4-month-old animals captured?

A12: Currently, we work to remove a number of horses that provides for appropriate population control, based on the number of horses born into the herd over the previous year. To accomplish this goal, we sometimes have to capture younger animals that are physiologically able to be weaned from the mare.

Q13: What is a demonstration herd?

A13: A demonstration herd is defined by the National Park Service as an administrative use of non-native livestock that maintains a cultural scene. The horse demonstration herd at Theodore Roosevelt NP depicts the open-range, cattle ranching landscape that would have been present when Theodore Roosevelt lived in western North Dakota.

Q14: How can I adopt a horse?

A14: Horses are sold through internet auctions by the General Services Administration (GSA) at once or twice a year, as needed to maintain the herd numbers. The availability of horses for sale is announced on the park website. Interested parties may then navigate to the GSA site, create an account, and compete in the auctions. Money received from the auction of horses goes to the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Q15: Why does terminology for animals differ between parks across NPS?

A15: Though park units may differ in their description of animals for public communications and interpretation purposes, all parks generally adhere to the same policies governing their management service-wide. The term “demonstration herd” is a neutral title that reflects federal regulations allowing the existence of livestock on NPS lands to maintain a historic scene.

Q16: Does the park provide genetic and pedigree information to buyers of park horses?

A16: In the past, the park partnered with a non-profit organization to obtain genetic information during horse capture operations. The genetic information was used by the partner to generate pedigrees as part of their non-profit organization business plan and by the park to inform population-level genetics. This partnership has been dissolved. The park currently manages the horse herd at the population level and does not maintain pedigrees or release genetic information on horses.

Q17: Can individuals or businesses help fund and appoint third-parties as contractors to research and create management plans?

A17: The National Park Service has a formal contracting process that ensures ethical and fair consideration of all third-party contractors and acquisitions. Outside entities may not influence these federal transactions.


Last updated: January 23, 2021

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