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Tuesday,  May 21 , 2024

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News / Life / Pets & Wildlife

Wild horses allowed to remain at N.D. national park

By Brooke Baitinger, The Charlotte Observer
Published: May 10, 2024, 6:20am

Wild horses from a historic herd will get to stay in the North Dakota national park they’ve long called home thanks to years of pressure from the public.

South Dakota Sen. John Hoeven said the National Park Service reversed course on a plan to remove the wild horses from Theodore Roosevelt National Park after he “pressed NPS to strongly consider the broad public support expressed by North Dakotans and other stakeholders for maintaining the wild horses.”

The National Park Service proposed removing about 200 of the horses entirely under an environmental review process in 2022 that advocates fiercely opposed, according to an April 25 news release from his office.

Instead, the agency has opted to manage the herd under an existing environmental plan from 1978 that recommends reducing the herds’ population by an unknown amount, the Associated Press reported.

The agency did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for information.

The history of horses in the rugged badlands landscape dates back to their connection to Native American tribes and then settlers in the Dakotas, the Daily Montanan reported.

The park said the decision to abandon the environmental review “was made after careful consideration of the information and public comment received during the (environmental assessment) process,” the AP reported.

“Park visitors, much to their delight, often encounter the horses while driving or hiking in the rolling, colorful badlands where a young future president, Theodore Roosevelt, hunted and engaged in cattle ranching in the 1880s in what was then Dakota Territory,” the AP reported.

Wildlife advocates celebrated the win but continue to push for federal protections for historic wild horse herds in the western U.S.