Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in North Dakota, is a must-visit destination for horse lovers. These animals represent a huge attraction for many of the park’s visitors. The feral horses here do not fall under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, but are instead managed by existing park regulations. For many years, the National Park Service attempted to remove all horses from the park, but the policy was reversed in 1970 when the horse was recognized as part of the historical setting.
The park is home to numerous bands, or groups, of horses, representing the experience Theodore Roosevelt may have had during the open range ranching era. The feral horses are preserved as a cultural resource. During the summer months, the horses may be seen grazing throughout the park. They are most often seen along the park boundary from Interstate 94. They can also be seen from high points, such as the Painted Canyon Overlook and Buck Hill. While there are no official horse tours operating inside the park, visitors are likely to see bands while hiking and exploring.
The feral horses in Theodore Roosevelt National Park move in bands of 5-15 animals. Each group has an established social hierarchy. Once formed, the social group will remain remarkably stable and often range within an established territory. Foals are born in the spring after an 11-month gestation period. Horse numbers have been historically managed at the park through periodic roundups. Removed horses are sold at public auction. However, the park is exploring alternative methods for herd management, including contraceptives, low-stress livestock herding, corral trapping, an adoption program, and various genetics research.
The Park advises visitors to exercise extreme caution while attempting to observe feral horses closely. Binoculars are advised for optimal viewing. Horses have a very acute sense of smell, hearing, and sight, and they are extremely wary of humans. Visitors are prohibited from feeding, chasing, harassing, and otherwise approaching the horses.