Horse Announcement Archives

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April 14, 2022

The Livestock Management Plan Civic Engagement comment period will be extended to April 18, 2022, to accommodate those that were unable to get their comments to the post office by April 15, due to inclement weather conditions in North Dakota. Any mailed comment that is postmarked by the 18th will be included.

The online PEPC comment page will also be open through Monday, April 18, 2022.

New FAQs 28 – 33 have been posted, and FAQ 15 has been updated, to address questions received but not answered during the Civic Engagement Meeting and questions received on this portal.

March 16, 2022

The National Park Service is proposing to develop and implement a Livestock Management Plan at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) to guide future management of livestock herds at the park. Currently, horse management is conducted under a 1978 Environmental Assessment, and longhorn cattle management is conducted in accordance with a 1970 Management Plan. The purpose of the proposed action is to:

  1. Provide a long-range management plan that considers the role of longhorn cattle and horses as historic exhibits;
  2. Define best management practices for both herds in the context of maintaining a historic scene (36 CFR 2.6)
  3. Balance livestock management with park commitments to management of natural and cultural resources (54 USC 100101; the NPS Organic Act), and;
  4. Address public interest related to livestock management in the park.

March 31, 2022

Archived from FAQ.
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.

July 14, 2021

Theodore Roosevelt National Park will be postponing horse captures for the remainder of 2021 due to minimal staffing and an increased program focus on wildfire preparedness and response. Staff will continue administering contraceptives to herd mares to mitigate population growth and its associated impacts on other wildlife.

June 30, 2021

The park has received a request for a private meeting with a horse advocacy group representative regarding horse management, specifically which animals should be maintained in the herd. Many organizations and individuals have interest in horse management at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and the NPS wishes to ensure that all stakeholders are included in program discussions. The NPS will be initiating a new horse management planning process during the fall of 2021, which will include civic engagement and public comment opportunities for all. Until then, the NPS will continue to utilize this portal for all communications. Once the planning process begins, the park horse communication portal and the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website (https://parkplanning.nps.gov) will be used to disseminate information and receive feedback from stakeholders. FAQ number 5 has been updated.

June 09, 2021

New FAQ uploaded.

May 06, 2021

To reduce foaling rates and minimize the number of animals that must be captured and sold annually to manage the herd size, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is administering GonaCon™ Equine immuno-contraceptive vaccine to all female horses ≥8 months of age. The vaccine does not impact current pregnancies during the first season after it is administered. Contraceptives will be administered remotely by 2 cc syringe dart, providing approximately two years of fertility control. These operations started in September of 2020. During the spring 2021 season, some mares will be receiving scheduled booster doses and yearlings will be receiving their initial dose.

Most reproductive age female horses in the park have already received some contraception as part of a study. This research ended in 2019 and results 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.

A useful feature of the GonaCon™ treatment, compared to similar contraception methods, is that it stops mares from ovulating. This allows the mares to save energy that would otherwise be put toward reproductive physiological changes and behaviors. For further information pertaining this contraceptive program, please refer to FAQ 20 and 21.

April 22, 2021

National Park Service (NPS) leadership at the Park, Region and Washington DC level have received numerous calls and emails from people who expressed concerns based on incorrect information and rumors. This post will address the concerns and questions that are a common thread. Park emergency response to two large fires, one near the South Unit and one in the North Unit, have taken priority over all other issues over the past three weeks. Thank you for sharing your concerns and for your interest in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Communication:

Due to continued misinformation and unsubstantiated rumors, the communication portal continues to be the most equitable, consistent, and transparent way for the park to disseminate information concerning Theodore Roosevelt National Park horse management actions. Regardless of what may be stated on social media, park staff have not shared horse management information with any individuals or groups outside the horse communication portal, except in response to media inquiries.

Was DNA collected by anyone during the spring operation?

Hair samples were collected from each horse captured and archived by the park. Samples were not shared with any external entity.

Why were individuals from the public seen talking to the staff at the spring operation?

The public road where the NPS staff were staged remained open during the March 2021 capture operation. Though some members of the public stopped by to ask questions, information concerning horse management was not shared between staff and those individuals. Park staff are regularly approached by individuals and questioned about horse management. People who asked questions pertaining to horse management were directed to the communication portal. Park managers will continue to use the communication portal as the only method of information dissemination concerning horse management activities.

Did anyone from any former partner organization of the park participate in the 2021 spring operation?

No individual from any former park partner organization participated in any of the horse management actions during the March 2021 operation.

Are horses killed to reduce the number of horses in the park?

No. Horses are captured using low-stress methods and transferred to private citizen ownership through online auctions managed by the General Services Administration.

What criteria is used for choosing horses to remove?

The criteria during the 2021 spring operation is to capture mostly female horses that are between 1 and 2 years old. Younger horses adapt more quickly to adoption. Operations are conducted in vehicle accessible areas close to park roads to enable optimal conditions for safe capture and care of animals. Once in corrals, the horses are fed, watered, and further assessed by a veterinarian before they are released to auction. The four horses captured in March of 2021 have been adopted out to their new homes.

Will taking the younger horses from the herd end the herd all together?

No. The park is not removing all of the young horses.

Is the NPS plan to remove the horse herd from the park?

There are no plans to remove the herd from the park. The herd is described in the park’s Foundation Document as an important resource. The park’s current goal is to prevent continued unfettered growth of the herd. Horse management operations are impacted by variables including staffing, weather, drought, and other park priorities that may affect the number of horses removed each year. For example, no horses were removed from the park in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why is the NPS removing any horses from the park?

Horse capture and removal has been conducted since the herd was fenced into the park with the first roundup of approximately 125 animals in 1954. Herd reduction is used to prevent unfettered growth of the population. The South Unit is entirely fenced, making forage, water, and habitat capacity an issue for all species sharing the same resources. Without regular removal of bison, elk, and horses, the available resources cannot support growing numbers of animals.

Is the NPS doing anything about keeping the herd from becoming inbred?

Collaborative research between the park and university scientists has demonstrated that the park herd has less genetic diversity than other feral herds and most domestic breeds. The park introduced horses to reduce inbreeding during the 1980s. Inbreeding and a variety of other topics will be addressed through a future planning process that will include public engagement, public comment, and the best available science to develop a new horse management plan.

When will the park have a horse management plan?

The NPS has funded the start of a planning process that will result in a horse management plan. The process includes opportunities for public review and comment at multiple stages of plan development. The plan is expected to take approximately 2 to 3 years to complete. The NPS will consult with tribes, other government agencies, and the public including all stakeholders during this process.

March 30, 2021

Four park horses will be posted to the GSA Auctions website today. The auction is scheduled to start this evening at 5:00 P.M. Central Time and will remain open for seven calendar days, closing at 5:00 P.M. Central Time on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.

Interested parties should navigate to: https://gsaauctions.gov

Once at the site, individuals will need to register an account (blue button at far right of top ribbon) and login to compete in auctions. Next, use the search tool with key word “horse” to locate auction pages for park animals. Users may also use the “Browse By Location” tool, selecting “North Dakota”. A tutorial is available for new users – see tabs at top of main page.

The successful bidder will be required to submit a Livestock Statement of Intent Form prior to payment. Bidders must provide all requested information and must mark the blocks which state AS A PURCHASER I WILL MAINTAIN THE HEALTH OF THE ANIMAL(S) AND HOUSE ANIMAL(S) IN A SECURE ENVIRONMENT. All payment options will be blocked until this statement of intent form is received with these blocks marked.

 
Four young horses trotting in brown grass with fence behind.

NPS Photo

 

March 26, 2021

The four horses that were captured this week are all together in the holding corrals. The two horses that received veterinary care were treated and are doing well. Staff are checking on them regularly. The Government Services Administration auctions will begin next week. The auction information and link will be posted on the communication portal before the auctions begin.

March 25, 2021

Update: four horses have been captured thus far this week. Two yearling fillies showed signs of dehydration and colic and were provided veterinary care to prevent complications. Animals will be rotated between pasture and holding pens as we monitor food and water intake and begin ground work to train animals how to load onto trailers using low-stress handling techniques. The capture operation is proceeding slowly because staff are devoting extra time to ensure operational safety and security, and support animal health.

March 22, 2021

Theodore Roosevelt National Park will conduct horse capture operations beginning March 22, 2021 to manage population numbers in the park. Up to ten horses will be captured using chemical immobilization techniques. For the safety of staff and reduced impact to horses, those animals closest to transportation routes will be targeted. Once captured, they will be held at corral facilities where they will receive care, veterinary inspection, basic trailer loading training, and be transferred to private owners through Government Services Administration (GSA) processes. Online GSA auction information will be posted on this site as it becomes available.

The park has received communication portal questions about capture plans, disposition of auction funds, and a wide array of details regarding horse management programming. The announcement above addresses current capture details and plans. We refer interested parties to FAQ 14 for information about disposition of funds from GSA auctions. Sensitive information regarding specific operation details will not be released. Future management plan discussions will be reserved for scoping as part of a public engagement and environmental planning process integral to horse management plan development.

March 02, 2021

The park has received additional inquiries about the status of a horse management plan, how horses are selected for removal from the park, how horses are selected for contraception, population targets for the herd, plans for managing genetic diversity, future plans for the herd, formal and informal partnerships, and safeguards for horses adopted out from the park. Information related to these topics can be found in FAQs #3, #5, #10, #11, #14, #18, #19, the “Adopt a Horse” section of the website, and the archived post from September 9, 2020. Please note that FAQ #14 has been updated with additional information and FAQ #18 and #19 have been added. There has also been an update to our “Horse Management” page.

January 22, 2021

The park has received additional inquiries about the status of a horse management plan, the classification of the herd, the process for collecting public input on horse management, and the ability of outside entities to fund or have a third-party assist with the development of a horse management plan. Information related to these topics can be found in FAQs #5, #6, #13, #15, and new FAQ #17. Please note that FAQ #5 and #6 have been updated with additional information.

December 5, 2020

The park has received additional questions about naming of horses, current partnership status, and individuals posting information in electronic formats. There has been no change in park policy since launching of the FAQ in September, 2020. FAQs #1, #3, and #4 still represent the park's position on these topics. A new question about pedigrees and genetics has also arisen. Please see FAQ #16 in response to that inquiry.

November 12, 2020

New FAQ uploaded.

October 10, 2020

1978 Environmental Assessment uploaded to Management Documents.

September 15, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions content now available.

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.

September 4, 2020

We welcome your feedback. Please submit questions via this link. We will provide answers through the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section below.

August 28, 2020

The park is working with web content specialists at our Regional Office to create a dialogue box for this portal where interested parties may comment and provide questions to be addressed in our FAQ page that is under development.

August 14, 2020

Today, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is launching this portal to share information with stakeholders interested in the park’s demonstration herd of horses.

Herd management updates will be posted on this page as information becomes available. Each new communication will be posted with an issue date, and older posts will be moved to an archive.

 

Last updated: April 29, 2022

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