Team effort prevents 103 wild horses from going to slaughter
WISHEK, ND (The Cloud Foundation) – Thanks to an enormous effort on the part of horse lovers across the country not one of the 103 Badlands wild horses removed from the Teddy Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) were purchased by kill buyers. This appears to be the first time in the history of the Park in which no Park horses went to slaughter. The Cloud Foundation (TCF) and affiliate organization Legacy Mustang Preservation (LMP) purchased 36 mustangs and worked together with North Dakota Badlands Horses (NDBH) to successfully publicize the Sept. 28 auction.
The public’s love of the mustang was evidenced by the outpouring of donations in from 7 countries; donations came from children, retirees, and even a homeless person. Generous equine advocate, Victoria McCullough stepped in just days before the auction and donated funds to purchase and transport an additional 12 horses.
“The cost to purchase the horses was far higher than we had anticipated as I had to bid high to deter slaughter buyers,” said Lisa Friday, TCF and LMP board Member. “The auctioneer started bids at 42 cents per pound instead of the normal 20 cents per pound in hopes of discouraging kill buyers from participating in the auction, but that meant the price was higher on nearly every animal we bought.”
“More must be done to ensure that private citizens and sanctuaries do not have to outbid kill buyers,” stated Ginger Kathrens, director of TCF. “We continue to recommend to the Park that bidders pre-register, revealing their intentions before they are allowed to bid. If the Park Service truly wants to provide a safe future for the historic Badlands horses, they need to provide this safety net for them.”
Other recommendations to the NPS include constructing a safe and secure, temporary holding facility at the National Park, where the horses would be held after capture. This location would also provide an auction site, avoiding the necessity of long distance transport of captured horses.
“We will continue to communicate with Teddy Roosevelt staff who seem receptive to protecting wild horses in the Park and conducting removals and sales in a less stressful manner,” stated Kathrens. “We believe the trucking of these young animals over 200 miles within days of capture to an auction yard contributed to injuries.”
There were no deaths as a result of the roundup and auction but one filly did receive life-threatening injuries. Emerado, a one year old grey filly, suffered a puncture wound sometime between roundup and offloading at Wishek, ND over 200 miles away from the Park. The wound was severely infected and the filly’s entire leg was swollen and non-weight bearing. She is now being treated in North Dakota, and her condition is improving. Other injuries were numerous superficial lacerations.
Overall, those who attended the roundup and auction felt the Park Service did an excellent job working with the livestock auction facility. Calm, gentle, and caring wranglers used domestic horses to move the horses through the auction, two to three at a time.
Unlike wild horses on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service (NPS) is not charged with protecting wild horses on Park Service lands in accordance with provisions in the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971. The Park Service and National Wildlife Refuges can dispose of wild horses to anyone for any reason.
“We applaud TRNP for choosing to manage wild horses in the Park,” said Ginger Kathrens. “When I visited last month I watched the tourists’ excited reactions to seeing these beautiful mustangs roaming free with the bison and other native wildlife in the Park. TCF plans to continue our involvement so that none of these stunning animals ever end their lives on a slaughter house floor.”