Pickens plan aired before House committee

March 4, 2009

Madeleine Pickens believes her plans for a million-acre sanctuary for US wild horses in the western rangelands could save the government at least $US700 million over a decade.

Pickens' plan has been posed as a solution to increasing pressure on Bureau of Land Management budgets for the care of more than 30,000 wild horses and burros now held in captivity.

There are now roughly as many horses held in holding facilities as still roam the rangelands.

Pickens, in testifying before the House of Representatives Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, said her plan would create a living museum for an animal that is a symbol of the American west.

Her plan, which she said would remove the need to slaughter any of the animals, would include the government paying a stipend of $US500 a horse, amounting to $US15 million a year on current numbers.

The money would go to a non-profit foundation responsible for the care of the animals.

Her refuge would cross both property held by the refuge and some public lands.

Pickens' testimony was in support of a bill sponsored by Democratic Representatives Nick Rahall, of West Virginia, and Raul Grijalva, of Arizona. It is aimed at protecting the wild horses and burros from slaughter.

Rahall is chairman of the committee.