HomeOutdoorsNewsTheodore Roosevelt National Park Considers Getting Rid of Feral Horses, Cattle

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Considers Getting Rid of Feral Horses, Cattle

by Brett Stayton
(Photo by: Santiago Urquijo/Getty Images)

Big changes could be coming to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. Considerations are reportedly underway for getting rid of the feral horses and cattle currently roaming park confines.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is one of the premier tourist attractions in North Dakota. Located where the Great Plains meet the Badlands, species like bison and elk also roam free amidst Painted Canyon and a major stretch of the Little Missouri River. The heart and soul of the park though is the still-standing cabin where President Theodore Roosevelt himself once lived prior to his presidency.

According to the National Parks Traveler, officials with the National Park Service are now gathering public comment on how best to manage the roughly 200 feral horses and 9 cattle on the property. Managing feral horses can be a particularly tumultuous issue as ecological principles are often challenged by emotional rhetoric from people who love seeing wild horses roam free across western landscapes.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park Weighing Options For Management of Feral Horses And Cattle

Theodore Roosevelt National Park has not updated its management plan for feral horses since 1978. The park’s management plan for feral cattle has not been updated since 1970.

As the National Park Service considers what to do next, three primary options are being weighed:

  1. Continue to follow previously established plans.
  2. Remove the feral horses and cattle as quickly as possible.
  3. Remove the cattle, and reduce the horse herd significantly to a number of “fully contracepted horses” that would be permitted to live out their remaining days at the park.

National Park Service officials are currently gathering public comments online in order to gather public opinion about potential next steps. The comment period runs through January. A virtual public forum is being hosted by the park service on January 12, 2023. The meeting is open to the public to join via telephone or computer.

Constructing The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library

Updating the feral horse and cattle management plans aren’t the only big potential changes the park has kicked around in recent years. In 2021, plans for a nearly $200 million restoration of the park started to be implemented. The renovations were launched in preparation for the construction of Roosevelt’s long-awaited Presidential Library.

The project was over a century in the making. Back in 2020, fundraising efforts generated over $100 million to support the construction of the historic facility. Those funds were matched by more than $50 million in state operating funds to leverage other funding sources. The project is expected to cost a total of $300.

The project is still in development. The library will open its doors to the public sometime in 2026. In addition to 32,000 square feet of exhibit space, the 93,000 square-foot facility will include an auditorium with seating for 300 that would enable hosting presidential debates, pavilion seating for 200 on the grass-covered roof overlooking nearby Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and 850 parking spaces.