Time Running out for Wild Mustangs on Goverment Land
Recently, news reports hit the papers that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) could no longer afford to feed and house the wild horses and burros in their holding pens while they awaited adoption.
The Bureau of Land Management was on the verge of slaughtering 2,000 of the mustangs because they’d not been bought at auction and were too expensive to continue to feed.
Now, 33,000 horses live in holding pens, each horse costing $1,500 a year to feed. By law, if they can’t be auctioned or adopted, they are to be slaughtered.
Recently, the land available to the horses has been drastically reduced by 19 million acres, so the government has had to round up more and more mustangs.
That was until just a few days ago when Madeleine Pickens, wife of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, dramatically stepped in to come to the aid of the animals.
She offered to adopt not only the 2,000 mustangs and burros, but the entire herd of 30,000 unwanted horses that were rounded up by BLM and are kept on federal land.
The BLM agreed to work with Mrs. Pickens to locate an area of federal land that she could rent or purchase for the animals.
In doing so, Mrs. Pickens earned the ABC Person of the Week Award. She is an animal lover and as a horse breeder and a philanthropist, she has always considered that people must be responsible for the care of animals.
“Animals don’t have a voice, and as long as man is their protectorate, we have a responsibility to take care of them,” she said. “We cannot abandon them.”
After her husband gave $7 million to the Red Cross to help Hurricane Katrina victims, she wanted to help the animal victims, too.
“I managed to hire an airliner, a cargo airliner and I went on my first trip down to Baton Rouge and we picked up 200 dogs,” she said. “I think we got about 800 dogs and cats out to California and Colorado and got them adopted out.”
So when Pickens heard that thousands of wild mustangs might be euthanized, she wouldn’t sit still for it.
“Our wild mustang must be our national treasure. We must not be slaughtering it,” Pickens said. “The horses have no natural predator. Their only predator is mankind, when we do the wrong thing.”
Wild horses, which date back to the time of the Spanish conquistadors, roam free on federal land in 10 western states and share that land with herds of cattle.
“Can you imagine somebody suggesting that you euthanize 30,000 horses? It was abominable,” said Pickens, who lives in Dallas and has a ranch in the Texas panhandle and a home near San Diego. “That will never happen.”
“If all these cattlemen have access to all this BLM land, what if I bought a ranch and I can get access to the BLM land and then we shared it,” Pickens said of her plan.
“They can have their land and we’ll have ours for our horses. This way, I can create a sanctuary and we can take in all the horses that are homeless so that no one will ever be turned away.”
Pickens said she is in negotiations to buy about 1 million acres for her wild mustang sanctuary in the West, a land mass slightly larger than Rhode Island. And it will be a place where anyone can go and see these wild horses running wild.
“I think a lot of people would love the opportunity to go and see what America’s really like, to see our true heritage, which is the wild horses.”
With the generous rescue plan from Mrs. Pickens and two other rescue organizations, the wild mustangs and wild burros got the intervention they so desperately needed … and just in time.
Re-written from news sources:
Website: Madeleine Pickens’ Project
Link: ABC: Pickens Person of the Week
Link: The US News and World Report