July 14, 1997
If H.R. 765 is presented to the President in its current form, the Secretary of
the Interior would recommend that the bill be vetoed. The bill would direct
the Secretary of the Interior to: (1) enter into an agreement with the
Foundation for Shackleford Horses for the management of free roaming horses in
the Cape Lookout National Seashore; (2) maintain the herd at a level of not
less than 100 horses; and (3) provide the Foundation with any horses removed
from the park. This type of legislative intervention would establish a
disturbing precedent eroding a park superintendent's discretionary authority to
make local resource management decisions after consideration of all relevant
factors. Also, as explained below, the National Park Service (NPS) already has
a number of actions underway to protect the herd of horses.
The NPS, consistent with its current management plan, is committed to maintaining a representative population of free-roaming horses on Shackleford Banks. Consistent with the plan, the NPS expects to complete a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Foundation this month regarding shared responsibility for management of the herd within the park. Under the terms of the MOU, the Foundation would assist with the management of the herd in the park and would receive any horses deemed surplus to maintaining a viable horse population on the island. In addition, the NPS has established the Shackleford Banks Horse Council as a working committee to assist the park with plans for managing the horses. A wide variety of interests and stakeholders are represented on the Council.
The NPS has demonstrated a commitment to maintaining a permanent horse herd at Cape Lookout National Seashore. Through the establishment of the Shackleford Banks Horse Council, the NPS has further demonstrated its commitment to involve the local community, local and State governments, private sector, the Foundation for Shackleford Horses, Inc., and the professional community in caring for the long term needs of these horses. Existing authorities and regulations provide for appropriate management of the horses. New legislative stipulations are not necessary to maintain the herd and could adversely affect the work that has already been accomplished.