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Madeleine Pickens Fights Naysayers to Save Wild Horses

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Ya think red tape and politics will make Madeleine Pickens give up her dream of creating a sanctuary for horses set to be slaughtered by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM)? Heck to the no.

Last year, we reported on Pickens’ purchase of a 14,000 acre ranch in Elko, Nevada which she planned to use as home for 1,000 mustangs. (If her last name is familiar — yes, she is the wife of megamoney oilman T. Boone Pickens.) She has since expanded this land lot to include another ranch — coming to a total 8,000 acres of private land and 570,000 acres of public land.

However, her plan faces strong opposition from locals who reject the idea that Pickens will be paid by the BLM (and U.S. tax dollars) to keep her horses on public land.

Her retort: she could eventually save taxpayers as much as $30 million annually if her Saving America’s Mustangs Foundation is permitted to open series of sanctuaries for all of BLM’s unadoptable (and thus “euthanizable”) wild horses. At present, more than 11,000 mustangs are in short-term holding with BLM, at a cost of $2,500 per year.

She’s also facing pushback from ranchers whose businesses count on the sale of these horses.

“The idea that you can’t destroy a horse because they’re the symbol of the pioneering West flies in the face of reason,” declared Demar Dahl, Elko County Commission chairman and a second-generation rancher.

Through all this, she marches on.  “I want to get on with it. I want to be alive before this is finished,” the 64-year old proclaimed. “… we will make a home for the horses. And we will move forward.”

Photo: Flickr

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  • Rick_Oshay55

    Myth #1: The BLM is selling or sending wild horses to slaughter.
    Fact: This charge is absolutely false. The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management care deeply about the well-being of wild horses, both on and off the range, and the BLM does not and has not sold or sent horses or burros to slaughter. Consequently, as the Government Accountability Office noted in a report issued in October 2008, the BLM is not in compliance with a December 2004 amendment to the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act that directs the Bureau to sell excess horses or burros “without limitation.”

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