Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wild Horses. A Refuge. Madeleine Pickens to the Rescue.

Look at what money can do! Well, a lot of money AND a kind heart really, they're both present in Madeleine Pickens. She's the wife of T. Boone Pickens. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to euthanize thousands of wild horses, to cut down to 27,000 the wild horse population in ten western states which numbers 33,000. The bureau isn't the bad guy in this picture. They are dealing with an over population of horses in their long term holding facilities, horses who are too old and unadoptable. Euthanasia has become an option. However, Mrs. Pickens' solution involves purchasing approximately 1 million acres of land and turning them into a refuge. In a wonderful spirit of cooperation, the bureau agreed to give the horses to Mrs. Pickens after she purchases the land. But, it's not just taking in the horses, and that's it. They will be sterilized at the refuge, and the horses the bureau takes out of the wild each year will also come home to the refuge.

Mrs. Pickens declared, "We will never turn an animal down." Mrs. Pickens breeds racehorses and she is a lifelong animal lover. She intends to open the refuge to the public, to let them experience the frontier life, living in cabins or teepees. “You shouldn’t be coming to this country to see Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck...We are more than that. We are a country that was formed on horseback and we should enjoy it, not slaughter it.”

God bless you Madeleine Pickens, even more.


Terri Farley said...

Thanks for your blog!
I don't know how Mrs. Madeleine Pickens feels about nicknames, but this week I've been thinking of her as Mustang Maddie, and here's why:
People around the world have asked the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to admit and repair their mis-mangement of the Wild Horse and Burro program, but it took Madeline Pickens, thoroughbred horse breeder and animal advocate to "cowboy up.
In clear-eyed Western fashion, Mrs. Pickens saw that the mustangs didn't need a bail out, but a jail break. And she's willing to open the gate. Pickens has offered thousands of the West's wild horses -- most captured by costly and deadly helicopter round-ups -- a lifetime sanctuary.
Weslie Elliott, director of operations and finance for the Mustang Heritage Foundation points out that Mrs. Pickens' offer still "...does not address animals produced on the range."
True, but anyone who attended the Nov. 17 meeting of the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board meeting in Reno, Nevada and listened to hours of Federal reports saw that the BLM can't do it alone ; their numbers don't jibe, even with each other.
During the public comment portion of the day, however, three reasonable solutions were presented repeatedly: contraception, repatriation and tourism.
For over ten years, BLM has had the science to implement a catch and release program, during which the infertility vaccine PZP could be administered to wild mares. Experts John W. Turner, Jr. Ph.D., Department of Physiology & Molecular Medicine, Medical University of Ohio, and Irwin K. Liu, D.V.M., Ph.D., School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, have both indicated had the BLM used the millions of dollars spent on the long term holding...for the proper administering of PZP ...there would not be a population issue..."

BLM admits 19 million acres of land, on which wild horses roamed has been "zeroed out." Why was this land taken away ? Even an English major can see not all of it was used to protect endangered species, preserve riparian areas, etc. Instead, it concentrated more animals in a smaller space already populated by unnaturally large game herds and domestic livestock. Repatriating wild horses to their ancestral territories would ease pressure on the land.

As author of the Phantom Stallion series of children's books, which focuses on Nevada's wild horses, I hear from thousands of readers worldwide who ask where they can see wild mustangs. With our international image on the rise, I'm not about to tell them they may not have that opportunity. Around the world, wildlife sanctuaries partner -- often profitably -- with tourism commissions. Viewing decks, museums, tours and nature walks inform and entertain the public. BLM can do the same, and I can personally guarantee there will be no shortage of young interns willing to staff such facilities and introduce tourists to the world of domesticated and free-roaming wild horses.

With the oversight of such a savvy savior of animals, as Mrs. Pickens, these solutions are not only possible, they're likely.

From all my readers and me, a tip of the cowgirl hat to Madeline Pickens, a Western woman who definitely does not have a wishbone where her backbone oughta be.

Chessbuff said...

Hi Terri. Your comment is well appreciated. It looks like BLM has a skeleton in its closet when it opted for long term holding over a capture and release program. Now, the chickens have come home to roost. I reckon you would welcome the touristic option, and I think that it would benefit all involved although my moral compass points to no mixing of profit and animals. But, it's an imperfect rule and so is our world.

More power to your writing...