Theodore Roosevelt National Park considers zeroing out its wild horses

20th December 2022 |

Park administrators are proposing gradual elimination of the horse herd. Other alternatives include no change in managing the horses or expedited removal of the horses and longhorn cattle.

Patrick Springer reports:

MEDORA, N.D. (Dec 20, 2022) — The wild horses that have roamed the Badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park since before its creation could be captured and removed in a gradual elimination of the herd.

The National Park Service has announced that its proposal for handling the herd, which has grown to almost 200 horses, is to reduce the size to zero over time.

If adopted, that course of action would reverse decades of policy at the park, which has kept horses inside the fenced boundaries to commemorate the open range era, when Theodore Roosevelt ranched in the Little Missouri Badlands in the 1880s.

The park is weighing two alternatives, including sticking with the current management plan, which calls for a much smaller herd, or expedited removal of the horses. Public comments will be accepted on the options until Jan. 31 [2023]. See end of post for contact information.

Image by Pamela J. Rutherford © 2017.

Wild horse supporters blindsided, shocked

Supporters of the horses — Facebook fan pages have attracted hundreds of thousands of followers — said they were “blindsided” and “shocked” by the proposal, which came as the park is revising its policy for managing the horses and a dozen longhorn cattle.

Castle McLaughlin, who retired as the curator of North American ethnology at Harvard’s Peabody Museum, studied the history and management of the horses for the park for a report published in 1989.

“By eliminating them, the NPS is disrespecting those communities and their heritage, and discarding an historic resource that is much beloved by visitors.”

“It is stunning that the NPS has apparently decided to minimize interpreting culture and history at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in favor of returning to the long discredited concept of promoting the badlands as a ‘pristine’ natural area untouched by people or time,” she said.

Source not provided. Note: Image was not filed with this story.

“Theodore Roosevelt was not just a conservationist, he was a rancher,” McLaughlin said. “It is equally shocking that the state of North Dakota doesn’t seem to care. Native cultures and ranching traditions are important to the state, and they attract tourists.

“By eliminating them, the NPS is disrespecting those communities and their heritage, and discarding an historic resource that is much beloved by visitors.”

The National Park Service doesn’t consider the horses to be a native wildlife species, such as the bison, elk, pronghorn and prairie dogs.

According to the park’s mission statement:

“Theodore Roosevelt National Park memorializes Theodore Roosevelt and pays tribute to his enduring contribution to the conservation of our nation’s resources by preserving and protecting the scenery, native wildlife, and wilderness qualities — the landscape that inspired Roosevelt and still inspires visitors today.”

Chris Kman of Chasing Wild Horses Wild Horse Advocates, an advocacy group based in Dickinson, said it’s clear the park wants to eliminate the herd, which she believes has long been the intent.

“We were shocked they are blatantly saying out loud, ‘Our goal is to eliminate all the wild horses,’” she said. “We were kind of blindsided by this. This is a horrible time to drop this bomb,” with people absorbed in celebrating the holidays.

The horses were present when the park was established and were fenced in by the park, which Kman said shows they were part of the park’s ecosystem before its founding. On the other hand, she said, the bison and elk had to be reintroduced to the park.

Source: »

Contact Information:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
PO Box 7
Medora, ND 58645

You can also reach the park by calling:
701-623-4466 (phone)
701-623-4840 (fax)


The Conservation Legacy of Theodore Roosevelt (

President Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most powerful voices in the history of American conservation. Enthralled by nature from a young age, Roosevelt cherished and promoted our nation’s landscapes and wildlife. After becoming president in 1901, Roosevelt used his authority to establish 150 national forests, 51 federal bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks and 18 national monuments on over 230 million acres of public land.

Today, the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt is found across the country. There are six national park sites dedicated, in part or whole, to our conservationist president. Along with others like John Muir and Rachel Carson, Roosevelt’s words and actions continue to affect how we approach and appreciate the natural world. Continue reading »

Featured Image: Photograph by Pamela J. Rutherford. Location: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, North Dakota.

Tuesday’s Horse

Official Blog of The Fund for Horses

2 thoughts on “Theodore Roosevelt National Park considers zeroing out its wild horses”

  1. Yes Mag, can’t imagine why government agencies, people in power want to eliminate the beauty and tradition this beautiful country has to offer. Wild horses, donkeys and burros are FEDERALLY PROTECTED BY LAW. Someone is breaking that law and should be prosecuted for it. EVEN IF IT’S BLM itself. { stands for Big Lies and Mismanagement}. As you can tell by the helicopter round ups. Harebrained idea to be sure. Even so, wild mustangs,donkeys and burros have been found at the horsemeat auctions.DISGUSTING AND UNNACEPTABLE!!! We need to shut down these cruel auctions and let Canada and Mexico do their own dirty work. Americans DON’T eat horsemeat. And a dapple gray horse next in line ,the man checked his tattoo and it was a grandson out of Secretariat. His little body was sold for$350.00 but a horse rescue group bought him and is enjoying his life.Shut the auctions down ASAP


  2. Avarice is the enemy but the lack of humanity is a shock
    Wildness habitat is a global issue
    Natural predators are always the best at keeping balance
    Canada imports slaughtered horses
    This is a problem that affects each Canadian
    I may not be close enough to see the wild horses running free but it is enough to know that they will remain protected

    Liked by 1 person

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