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Pickens meets Interior Secretary over sanctuary plan

February 19, 2010

Philanthropist Madeleine Pickens has met US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to push her concept of a huge sanctuary for the thousands of wild horses currently held in captivity.

Pickens said Salazar gave her a good hearing and said he had asked her to serve on a small committee he is forming to address the issue of excess wild horses and to look at solutions.

"I have accepted his offer and look forward to representing our wild horses and all of you as we look for a solution that is good for the wild horses and for the American people." Pickens said.

Picken's Save our Mustangs Foundation proposes creating a huge sanctuary in Nevada or another western state. She believes such a sanctuary would attract thousands of tourists for the opportunity to see the animals in a rangeland environment.

Picken said Salazar was gracious with his time. "I felt that the meeting was very productive.

"The secretary indicated that he recognised that there is a serious problem with the excess wild horses that now stand in holding pens all across America and the additional thousands of wild horses being gathered this year.

"This is the first time in many years that a Secretary of the Interior has reached out to the private sector and acknowledged that there is a problem, and I commend Secretary Salazar for his initiative in trying to reconcile the many different proposals to resolve this issue."

Pickens said he explained to him why she considered long-term holding was not a good option and whey she considered it wrong for the Bureau of Land Management to continue gathering the horses.

"I emphasised the fact that these wild horses should remain in their natural environment and be presented to the American people in the setting where they have lived for hundreds if not thousands of years.

"It is sad and regrettable that the approach we have taken to house over 22,000 older wild horses has been strictly limited to a long-term holding arrangement that does little to protect or preserve the horses and offers little, if any, incentive to improve the lands where they are located.

"I explained in detail the distinction between having a non-profit foundation build and operate a sanctuary where any monies received from the federal government for care of wild horses would be mandated to be returned to the sanctuary for improvements or operational expenses in perpetuity.

"Simply paying ranchers or other contractors to warehouse wild horses until they die is an unacceptable method of addressing the issue of excess horses.

"I also explained that embracing a plan like the one my foundation put forth will result in saving of millions of dollars to the taxpaying public.

"Leveraging private dollars and relying on private contractors to build a state of the art wild horse facility will prove to be the prudent approach from a financial perspective," she said.

"I have said many times that we owe the wild horses much more than we have given and I conveyed that thought to Secretary Salazar. I told him that we have a moral obligation to America's wild horses to protect and preserve them for future generations in a manner consistent with the law."

Pickens urged supporters to continue calling and writing to the Secretary of the Interior, members of Congress and the Obama Administration.

"I believe we have laid the groundwork to succeed in this effort and through your support, perhaps we will one day soon see thousands of wild horses roaming in their natural habitat, protected from abuse and inhumane treatment for the rest of their natural lives."



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