Wild horses in North Dakota were granted a reprieve, marking the end of a two-year fight between wild horse advocates and federal lawmakers and parks.  The herd of 200 or more horses live in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) and the National Park Service released a “livestock plan” in 2022 to eradicate the horses using a “phased approach.”

Non-profit organizations including the American Wild Horse Conservation (AWHC) and Chasing Horses Wild Horse Advocates fought the proposal by submitting public comments, launching awareness-raising billboards, and mobilizing over 20,000 members of the public to speak up for the preservation of this historic herd. Their hard work paid off, with the NPS abandoning its plan to permanently remove the wild horses from the TRNP. Backing the change of heart was Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), Governor Doug Burgum, and other North Dakota elected officials.

The decision was met with relief by the various organizations behind the drive to overturn the plan. “The decision to preserve the Theodore Roosevelt wild horses exemplifies the power of grassroots advocacy, driven by citizens nationwide and supported by leaders like Senator Hoeven and Governor Burgum. AWHC is proud to have played a role in this movement,” said Suzanne Roy, executive director of AWHC. “These wild horses are integral to the landscape that inspired President Roosevelt and now will continue to represent the spirit of the Badlands for years to come.”

According to a press release from the AWHC, “The NPS’s decision to terminate its proposal to eliminate all wild horses from the national park follows the recently signed appropriations bill, which included language introduced by Sen. Hoeven, strongly urging the NPS to keep the horses in place and that could potentially block funding for their removal.”