Whoever said, “money can’t buy happiness” won’t be able to convince the thousands of mustangs that will be saved by Madeleine Pickens’ purchase of a wild horse sanctuary in Nevada.
The animal activist and wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens bought a 14,000-acre ranch near Elko, Nevada that will allow her to return all of the 34,000 wild mustangs that were rounded up by BLM and are now housed in government holding facilities.
She plans to call the sanctuary – Mustang Monument Preserve.
If the Bureau of Land Management agrees to the arrangement, it will be the first time the government has released such a large number of mustangs to one sanctuary.
Pickens plans to initially move 1,000 horses to the ranch and eventually relocate all of the wild mustangs.
The sanctuary will allow the horses to return to their natural habitat. The ranch comes with grazing rights on 540,000 acres of public land. And if needed, Pickens is ready to purchase the adjacent land that has an additional 24,000 acres of public grazing land.
Pickens told the Associated Press she was encouraged by her initial meetings with BLM representatives.
This isn’t the first time Madeleine Pickens has proposed an idea like this to BLM. In 2008 plans for another sanctuary were denied because the land where she wanted to relocate the horses was not an area protected by the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. Federal laws restrict where wild horses can live.
The latest proposal addresses that issue because the sanctuary is located on land where wild mustangs have historically lived.
Pickens’ proposal includes the formation of a nonprofit foundation that would care for the animals with a government stipend of $500 a head, per year.
There would be an educational center and lodging for guests on the ranch and a fence would be built around the land so the horses can’t wander away.
Stacie Daigle of Pickens’ Saving America’s Mustangs group said, “The wild horse eco-sanctuary will give them their natural habitat back, along with a place that Americans can come and view the horses and learn about the land and the American culture.”
There are approximately 33,700 wild horses in 10 Western states, but about half live in Nevada. Earlier this year BLM decided only 26,600 horses and burros could be sustained in the area and rounded up the excess horses.
BLM met with controversy over their techniques for rounding up the horses because of the trauma it caused the animals, along with injuries and some deaths.
Animal activists have been protesting the round ups and BLM’s methods.
The news of Madeleine Pickens plan comes one day after another BLM wild horse round up began in Northwest Colorado. Helicopters began rounding up 140 horses that BLM says have moved outside the public land designated for them. The horses will be herded into corrals and later sold or adopted.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Habitat for Horses and Colorado’s Cloud Foundation have filed a lawsuit to stop the Colorado roundup.
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