TRNP considering removal of horses, cattle from park
DICKINSON, N.D. (KQCD) - Theodore Roosevelt National Park is re-evaluating its livestock plan for horse and cattle herds and wants the public’s input.
The park’s Deputy Superintendent says the management plan was first established in 1970 and an Environmental Assessment in 1978.
She says they’re looking at alternatives, one being the complete removal of horses and cattle within two years and another for reducing herd sizes.
The proposals would require that livestock be sold, transferred, or donated.
A horse advocate says the complete removal of the horses would take away from the park experience.
“Horses, they are families, ripping the families apart, ripping the horses apart, and really, a huge loss for the state of North Dakota because we know a lot of people come here just to see the horses,” said Christine Kman, Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates.
“The horse population currently is considerably higher than even the 1978 EA, so we know that that horse population is currently too high,” said Maureen McGee-Ballinger, Deputy Superintendent.
There is a virtual public meeting on January 12 to hear more about the alternatives. You can access this at https://www.nps.gov/thro/learn/nature/feral-horses.htm.
You may remember seeing horses and cattle the last time you visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
They’re part of the park’s livestock plan, which is being re-evaluated.
Bison, elk, and other animals roam through Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Livestock such as horses and cattle also call it home
But their future there is in question.
“It’s time to take a look at our park policies, and we were looking at the 1970 plan and the 1978 ea, and they don’t fit with the conservation legacy that this park was established for,” said Maureen McGee-Ballinger, Deputy Superintendent.
She says the horse population is considerably higher than the 1978 environmental assessment.
She says they’re seeking input on alternatives for livestock management, such as removing them over the course of several years or reducing herd sizes.
They must “bring the herds down to 35-60 horses and twelve or fewer cattle,” said Ballinger.
Maureen McGee-Ballinger says horses and cattle would be offered to tribes and non-profit groups, and then animals can be sold.
Wild horse advocates believe the complete removal of livestock would negatively impact the park experience.
Christine Kman says she and her husband started chasing horses to support the horses in the badlands.
“Horses, they are families, ripping the families apart, ripping the horses apart, and really, a huge loss for the state of North Dakota because we know a lot of people come here just to see the horses,” said Christine Kman with Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates.
Kman says a leading horse geneticist says 150 horses are needed for a viable herd.
She encourages others to share their input on the park’s livestock for future generations.
“My grandkids deserve to walk into Theodore Roosevelt National Park just like we do today and see wild horses running free. They deserve that,” says Kman.
There is a virtual public meeting on Jan. 12 to hear more about the alternatives.
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