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Associated Press , Published September 25 2013

National Park in ND thinning wild horse herd

MEDORA, N.D. — Officials at Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota are rounding up wild horses this week.

The horses will be sold at auction in Wishek on Saturday in an effort to thin the herd to a size the park can accommodate.

The park maintains a demonstration herd of what it calls feral horses to commemorate the wild horses that roamed the badlands when Theodore Roosevelt ranched in the area during the 1880s, before he went on to the White House.

"It's one thing to see a picture in a book. It's another thing to see them out there roaming around," park Resource Management Chief Bill Whitworth told KXMB-TV.

Park officials say the herd has grown to more than 200 animals. About half of them will be auctioned.

The park has conducted more than 25 horse roundups since 1954. The last one was in 2009. Officials hope a contraceptive vaccine they are experimenting with will succeed and eliminate the need for such roundups, in which a helicopter crew herds the animals into a corral.

The 26 mares vaccinated in 2009 are getting a booster shot this year, and another 10 mares are getting the birth control shot for the first time.

"This could be large scale and lead to a declining population of wild horses. Ideally it could eliminate roundups," Colorado State University researcher Maggie Bauer told The Bismarck Tribune.

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