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Want a Horse? Theodore Roosevelt National Park Will Auction About 90 Wild Horses Oct 23


An auction of wild horses from Theodore Roosevelt National Park is scheduled for October 23. Photo of horse at Theodore Roosevelt National Park by QT Luong, used with permission.

With too many wild horses on their hands, the folks at Theodore Roosevelt National Park have scheduled an auction for October 23 to sell about 90 head to the public.

The auction is slated for 2 p.m. on October 23 at Stockman's Livestock Exchange in Dickinson, North Dakota.

The park plans to sell about 30 foals, 20 yearlings, 13 2-year-olds and some older stallions and mares, although composition of those being sold could change slightly based on results of the roundup.

“The majority of the horses that will be sold are young horses,” says Superintendent Valerie Naylor. “They will be good horses for someone who is willing to take the time to train them. We hope that they are sold to owners who will appreciate that they came from the park.”

Theodore Roosevelt National Park maintains feral horses as a “historic demonstration” herd so that park visitors can see horses in a natural setting. The park’s goal is to keep the herd at 50-90 animals. This fall's auction will reduce the park's herds to about 70 animals. Periodic roundups of the horses are required to keep their numbers within park population goals. Since 1954, the NPS has conducted more than 25 roundups to maintain the herd at desired levels.

This year, the park will be initiating a research project to evaluate a new, multi-year contraceptive vaccine as a potential tool in feral horse management. The contraception study is a four-year project to assess vaccine feasibility and does not represent a permanent change in the direction of current horse management. The project will involve approximately 50 of the park mares, half of which will receive a contraceptive vaccine. Park staff will monitor vaccine efficacy, durability of effects over time, and horse behavior.

“Keeping the population within our objective requires periodic roundups that are time-consuming and have inherent risk for horses and park staff,” says Superintendent Naylor. “We want to see how well the contraceptive vaccine works on horses as we may want to consider using it as a tool in the future to reduce the need for frequent horse roundups in the park.”


The mustangs at Theodore Roosevelt NP are one of the major attractions at this park. Also, if I am correct, this park is the only NPS site to feature wild horses. There are several herds and the one I encountered last fall featured two stallions, each with his stable of mares. They are very approachable as long as you are on foot; if you are on horseback, you can't get close to them. I put one picture of a stallion with his two mares on one of my websites. You can see it here:

Assateague Island National Seashore is known strictly for it's wild horses. The famous book Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry tells the tale of a tradition called "Pony Penning".

Anon, technically the horses on Assateague are considered feral since they are domestic stock that was just left to their own devises for the last couple hundred years. Although I guess the same could be said for the mustangs as well. The horses on the Maryland side of Assateague are owned by the park service and they administer birth control to control the population. The ones on the Virginia side are owned by the Chincoteague Fire Dept. and they are the ones that round up the horses every year and auction them. THe ones on the Virginia side are a recognized breed, the Chincoteague pony, even though they have a mishmash of breeds, including mustang.

Ranger Holly

I understand these wild horses are not protected by the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971 (The Wild Horse Annie Act) and many do wind up being purchased by "kill-buyers" who will bring them to Canada or Mexico to slaughter. Does anyone know what percentage of these auctioned horses actually go to good homes?

The practice of rounding up horses in the name of keeping herd numbers "managable" is BS. They round them up only to make money. That is why in the early 1980's - Theodore Roosevelt National Park decided to "upbreed" its
current herd of wild horses by introducing a range of outside horses
over the course of a few years, including a part Shire bucking horse
stallion, an Arabian stallion, a Quarter Horse stallion and mares, and
three Bureau of Land Management stallions. Naturally, these horses could
not come even close to competing with the locally adapted wild horses,
so the Park also had to couple these releases with very selective
roundups to remove the original horses. According to the N.P.S., the primary rationale for replacing the
original horses was to improve their appearance and sale value at
auction. They don't care who purchases the horses they just care about the money.

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