More than 100 wild horses gathered from Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park are to be sold at public auction this Saturday.
The park expects to sell about 35 to 40 foals, 25 yearlings, 25 two-year-olds, and 20 3-year-olds, although composition of those being sold could change slightly depending upon the results of the park roundup, set for Monday or Tuesday of this week.
The auction will take place at the Wishek Livestock Market in Wishek, North Dakota, at 11am CDT.
About 105 to 110 horses are expected to be sold in a plan to reduce the horse population in the national park to about 100 animals.
Park authorities say periodic roundups of the horses are required to keep their numbers within park population goals.
Since 1954, the National Parks Service has conducted more than 25 roundups in the park.
“Keeping the horse population within our objective requires periodic roundups that are time and labor intensive and have inherent risk for horses and park staff,” Superintendent Valerie Naylor said.
“Our primary concerns during the roundup are for safety of our staff and the horses.”
This year, the park will be continuing a research project to evaluate a multi-year contraceptive vaccine as a potential tool in feral horse management.The project was begun during the last roundup in 2009.
“If the contraceptive research shows promise, we may be able to use that as a tool to limit the size of the horse herd in the future,” Naylor said.”That will reduce the need for removing horses from the park on a regular basis.”
Theodore Roosevelt National Park maintains feral horses as a “historic demonstration” herd so that park visitors can enjoy horses in a natural setting.
Because of the ongoing contraceptive study and the need to maintain horse band structure, the park will retain a larger number of horses than desired. Following the conclusion of the study, the park’s long-term goal is to keep the herd at 50 to 90 animals.
The Cloud Foundation is nearing its goal to raise money to buy up to 24 of the youngsters at the auction.
The purchased horses will be sent to the Legacy Mustang Preservation in Louisa, Virginia, where they will be trained for adoption.
It urged those who could provide a wild horse a home to attend the auction or, if unable to attend, to contact the foundation.
It expressed its disappointment that it would have to compete against slaughter buyers at the auction.