Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Saving America's Mustangs offers Wild Horse Eco Sanctuary

Horse advocate Madeleine Pickens' non-profit organization, Saving America's Mustangs, has a proposal to help wild horses, and save taxpayer dollars. She's offered to take in more than 2,000 wild horses scheduled to be permanently removed in late January from the Antelope Valley Herd Management Complex in Nevada.  Below is a news release from Saving America's Mustangs:

As Congress returns from the holiday weekend, members will be greeted by a full-page ad in Politico blasting the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for its decision to proceed with the roundup of more than 2,000 mustangs in northeastern Nevada, despite a cost-effective alternative on the table.

“As costs [of the BLM wild horse program] spiral out of control, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who oversees the BLM, and BLM Director Bob Abbey pledge reform. But their talk is cheap when opportunities for real action are ignored,” the ad admonishes.

The advertisement was placed by philanthropist and businesswoman Madeleine Pickens, who has purchased two ranches in Nevada and is in the process of creating a wild horse eco-sanctuary in the area. Mrs. Pickens’ ranches are situated amidst the BLM’s Antelope Complex, where BLM intends to conduct the massive wild horse roundup beginning this week.

In early December, Mrs. Pickens and her Saving American Mustangs Foundation had offered to provide state-of-the-art holding facilities for the captured horses on her private lands, and requested the BLM to postpone the roundup by a few months until the ranches were ready to receive the horses.

Mrs. Pickens proposal would prevent the waste of tax dollars incurred by shipping the horses thousands of miles to off-the-range holding facilities. Despite this, BLM rejected the offer.

“For three years BLM has stonewalled our proposal to create a wild horse eco-sanctuary that offers a cost-effective, public/private partnership solution to the government’s unsustainable warehousing of wild horses,” Mrs. Pickens said today. “Today I turn to the Congress and the American people to urge the BLM to heed the call for change before it is too late, and the last of our cherished mustangs is lost forever.”

Last week, a coalition of prominent organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States , the Western Watersheds Project and the ASPCA sent a letter to BLM director Bob Abbey urging him to postpone the roundup in favor of the cost effective alternative plan.

Beginning as early as January 20, the BLM intends to capture up to 2,228 mustangs, or 83 percent of the wild horses living in the Antelope Complex, claiming that the 1.3 million acre public lands area can sustain just 427-788 horses. Meanwhile, the agency annually authorizes the equivalent of more than 2,000 privately-owned cattle and nearly 7,000 privately-owned sheep to graze the same area.

The BLM has been harshly criticized over the past several years for its aggressive policy of rounding up wild horses from public lands in the West and stockpiling them in government holding facilities in the Midwest . The U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Senate Interior Appropriation Committee, and Interior Secretary Salazar himself have acknowledged that the program is fiscally unsustainable, yet the roundups continue. The BLM now warehouses more wild horses in government holding facilities (40,000+) than are left free on the range.

Saving America’s Mustangs is creating up to a million acre Wild Horse Eco-Sanctuary as a permanent home for wild horses presently in captivity. The “Mustang Monument” sanctuary will be a living museum, where visitors can reconnect with the great outdoors and learn about America ‘s wild horses and the important role they play in our culture and our history

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