THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK AND NORTH DAKOTA BADLANDS HORSE REGISTRY

MEDORA, ND: The park maintains horses as an “historic demonstration herd” for visitor enjoyment, but these horses must be actively managed to avoid overgrazing and resource damage. In the past the park conducted helicopter based, large-scale roundups every four to five years. Surplus animals were then sold off-site through traditional sale barns. Roundups were expensive and labor intensive. Recent changes in management have provided a less expensive and safer capture alternative using low-stress handling techniques and dart delivered chemical immobilization. The park now utilizes General Services Administration online auctions to transfer horses directly into private ownership. NDBH is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that promotes, advocates for, and registers horses removed from the park. Much of the equipment and funds used in the wild horse operation were donated by NDBH. NDBH will help with captures, care, handling, brand inspection, and loading of culled horses. NDBH collects hair samples from every captured horse for DNA testing which is used by park staff for research. In addition, NDBH uses the DNA testing to confirm sire and dam of culled horses and reports their ancestry on the registration certificates. The park has long recognized the benefit of cooperators in its mission to conserve natural and cultural resources. Successful partnership agreements have been developed for managing elk, bighorn sheep, bison, wildland fire, historic preservation, water quality, invasive weeds, and native plant seed production. “This partnership will provide an innovative solution to the long-standing safety and expense problem posed by horse roundup operations,” said Superintendent Wendy Ross. “We look forward to improving management techniques, conducting research, and enhancing public relations in cooperation with the North Dakota Badlands Horse Registry.”