Madeleine Pickens praises Salazar wild horse plan

October 10, 2009

Madeline Pickens, who has been promoting the set-up of a million-acre wildlife reserve to rehome captive wild horses, has praised the latest plan on the table to manage mustangs.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced wide-ranging proposals this week in which horses taken from the Western rangelands would be relocated to new preservation areas further east, utilising better quality grassland.

His plan includes the aggressive use of reproduction controls to manage numbers. Salazar hoped the new herd areas would provide tourism opportunities for nearby communities.

"I am delighted that the Secretary of the Interior has announced reforms for the Wild Horse and Burro Programme," said Pickens, the wife of Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens.

"Much of what the Secretary said echoes what I have said over the past 18 months.

"Those concerns about the existing Bureau of Land Management programme led me to seek a wild horse sanctuary/visitor centre that would be available to the American people.

"It is gratifying to know that the effort I have made in the past year and a half to offer this project for the sake of the wild horses and the American people has borne fruit in Washington.

"I respect Secretary Salazar's forthright candour in calling attention to this serious problem, which has been ignored by the bureau for many years under previous administration.

Pickens said she would support Secretary Salazar's efforts, and would gladly compete to offer the wild horse sanctuary that she has planned to the bureau as one of the facilities proposed by Secretary Salazar.

Pickens is behind the National Wild Horse Foundation, which has been promoting her plan to provide a permanent home for captive wild horses, which now stand at 32,000 - just 1000 fewer than the number that still roam wild across the western rangelands.

Under the so-called Pickens Plan, the foundation would buy and operate a ranch for the sole purpose of providing proper care and a perpetual home for the horses.

It would have year-long grazing capability, federal and private land for management flexibility, sufficient private land for hay production for at least 20,000 head during tought times - drought, deep snow, and rangeland fire - adequate water and sufficient size to support the horses.

The foundation would enter into a contract or co-operative agreement with the Secretary of Interior to relocate the 9000 wild horses currently held in short-term holding corrals to the ranch, and to accept future non-adopted wild horses.

The total population of horses on the ranch would be determined by its carrying capacity, but is anticipated to be 20,000 to 30,000 head. The horse population would be managed as a non reproductive herd.

The foundation would be able to take an extra 2000 to 4000 animals annually from future government wild-horse gathers.

Pickens believes her plan has the potential to save the bureau and taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually.