Theodore Roosevelt National Park officials to round up horses, auction them

wild horses Theodore Roosevelt National Park

From The Dickinson Press
By Katherine Lymn

MEDORA – Theodore Roosevelt National Park officials will round up horses and auction them next week in its continuing effort to control the population and prevent overgrazing.

For horses, which stay within the park’s boundaries, the park is not actually that big. The South Unit’s 46,000 acres need to be protected to prevent resource damage, like overgrazed grass, officials said.

Horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Wild Horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

“Once you have resource damage it’s really difficult to fix it so we don’t want to get to that point,” said Eileen Andes, the park’s chief of interpretation.

To preserve this balance, the park has conducted more than 25 horse roundups since 1954. This roundup will sell about half the park’s horses, lowering the population to about 100.

Officials will use a helicopter to herd the horses into a broad area that narrows into the unit’s wildlife handling facility, where a veterinarian checks their health.

“The objective is to keep the horses as calm as possible because when they’re calm and we’re calm … there’s less of a chance for any injuries to horses or staff,” Andessaid.

A group of volunteers, familiar with the horses’ markings and their bands, count the park’s horses. They know “generally who associates with whom,” Andes said.

Organizations are working to find buyers that would give the horses safe homes, which hasn’t always been the outcome.

Holding Pen at Theo. Roosevelt National Park

Holding Pen at Theo. Roosevelt National Park

The park’s last horse roundup, in 2009, led eight of 77 auctioned horses to wind up on the “kill market,” where horses are bought for slaughter.

Andes said the park cannot vet the buyers.

“Just like most people, we would like to see the horses go to good homes,” she said.

In the past, the horses have sold for between a couple hundred dollars and “considerably more,” she said.

Depending on the results of the roundup, the park expects to auction 35 to 40 foals, 25 yearlings, 25 two-year-olds and 20 three-year-olds.

In the meantime, the park is continuing an experimental contraceptive study. Starting with the 2009 roundup, park officials gave contraceptive shots to mares, which seemed to wear off in the time since.

If the contraceptive works, the park may use it to limit the population in the future, reducing the need for roundups, park Superintendent Valerie Naylor said in a press release.

“Our aim for the park is to maintain our wildlife populations for the public enjoyment but also to protect the resource,” Andes said, “and that’s a balance that we have to continually work on.”

The roundup will take place Monday and Tuesday, depending on the weather.

The auction will be Saturday, Sept. 28, at 10 a.m. in Wishek.

Patrick Springer contributed to this report.

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  • Gracemarie Elliott

    The United States Forest Service and this woman “Andes,” Disgust me.

    America’s Wild Horses in Roosevelt National Park have every right to live a Humane Life as they were here well before we were.

    As I pay my taxes it makes me Completely and Totally sick to my stomach to Imagine all the Horrible ways American Government will Abuse them by their own Greed and Corruption; and the Greed and Corruption of the Ruthless Corporations that control the Corrupt Politicians, who control the Government and it’s different “organizations” like the USDA , Bureau of Land Management, and the United States Forest Service.

    I am so sick of being an American SLAVE, and I am completely dismayed at how Horrible and Abusive this Government is to our American Wild Horses who they apparently think are only money making meat machines. I know that some much of my taxpayer Dollars are used Corruptly, Wastefully, and Abusively; such as most likely the Horrid Helicopter RoundUp, the Frantic and Abusive Transport to “American Market” and then the Grueling Long Transport to Slaughter where many Horses are mostly dead upon arrival due to abuse of the Government. Finally they are abused at the slaughterhouse On the way to Slaughter, and abusively Slaughtered for a little money.

    Finally the BiPartisian Politicians use this and taxpayer dollars to do things like sit down to lavish luncheons , or give Some Military General a huge Mansion all on the Taxpayer Dollar. While the ordinary American Citizen Slave pays their taxes because if they don’t, they go to jail or are punished in some other way at the abuse of American Government and ” Private Greedy Enterprise.”

    I can’t say that I’m “Proud to Be an American” today in this messed up, hate filled, corrupt , ruthless and “lawless” America that exists today.

    There is NO FREEDOM, no punishment for murderers “anything goes” in this nasty corrupt and greedy American Bandwagon, where the “powers that be say if we can’t beat ’em in this nasty greedy game , well just join them.

    United States Bureau of Land Management I despise you and totally disrespect you in most regards. The United States of today is only a Cesspool of Hate, Greed and Abuse at the hands of it’s own Citizens, it’s living creatures and it’s once Pristine Lands.

    I’m ashamed to be an American today .

    September 23, 2013
  • debra heverly, m.d.

    however no mention is made ever about the over grazing which is occurring because of the number of cattle allowed to graze there subsidized at taxpayer expense (“welfare ranchers”) – cattle outnumber horses there by 3-6x and yet there is no effort to get the cattle off – WTF???

    September 23, 2013
  • V Fisher

    Every single article I read about these poor horses is always the same old claptrap. Too many horses, they damage the land, over breeding, etc. Never EVER one single word about the cattle, which out number the horses 5/1, and how much damage they do. Get the cattle off those ranges. That land is the rightful home of the wild horses and burros. Leave them be.

    September 24, 2013
  • Unbelievable. They can’t maintain 200 horses on 46,000 acres? It’s amazing that I have three perfectly healthy horses on eight. Go figure. I’m not a dumbass.

    September 24, 2013
  • karen

    Keep them as calm as possible? With a helicopter? 46,000 acres can only support 100 horses? Auctioning foals?

    September 24, 2013