State lawmakers make moves to keep wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Lawmakers worry removing the horses could negatively impact tourism in the state.
The fate of the wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park remains uncertain, with the period for public comment ending on January 31st.
Officials say they lack a legal basis to keep horses at the park.
North Dakota house Rep. Josh Boschee's letter to officials of Theodore Roosevelt national park urges them to extend the deadline for public comment for their livestock management plan by sixty days.
His letter argues removing the park's horses could hurt the state's tourism industry. He also says public participation in the decision was diminished by the comment period overlapping with the busy holiday season.
Boschee is currently working on a resolution addressing the issue to bring to the house. Other state lawmakers voiced support for trying to keep the horses at the park at a Dickinson Chamber of Commerce event on January 14.
"This would be a tragedy to lose something that does draw and has a lot of tourism draw for the state of North Dakota," said Senator Dean Rummel of Dickinson.
Attorney general Drew Wrigley also questioned the removal.
"We manage our modern world, sometimes from the standpoint of like, well, how did it begin in the beginning of time, as opposed to none of us can even remember a time obviously, when there weren't these beautiful horses out there," Wrigley said. "And the question will be, are we managing it for the managers? Or is it being managed for the people that enjoy the park?"
Christine Kman, founder of Chasing Horses, Wild Horse Advocates is happy to see state officials getting involved, but she says it won't be enough.
"They've heard us so they're taking our voice to the floor in the form of resolution," Kman said. "Then they will go to federal delegates and say this is what the people in North Dakota are saying. And I would expect that our federal delegates would respond since we voted them in office to be our voice."
Senator Hoeven sits on the National Park sub-committee in the United States Senate.