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Madeleine Pickens Would Effectively Double the US Wild Horse Population

It could get a whole lot easier to see our country’s wild horses soon. Sometime in the next couple years Madeleine Pickens plans to open up a million-acre horse sanctuary that will effectively double the country’s wild horse population.

Madeleine Pickens and her animal-animal loving, billionaire husband T. Boone have come up with plan to save wild horses. I got to talk with her recently for a story on her wild horse sanctuary I did for PeoplePets.

What many people don’t realize is that we have about 33,000 wild horses in the wild, plus another 30,000 in pens. The Bureau of Land Management has been managing these horses since they got federal protection in 1971–and shrinking the land they graze on all the while.

They calculate how many wild horses can survive based on the land left, so when they cut the grazing area, they cut the number of horses. The BLM recently said it wanted to cut the herd to 27,000.

Meanwhile, it’s been rounding up horses every year for auction. They try to auction them off to horse lovers who agree to all kinds of restrictions. Well, the main restriction is they can’t sell them to somebody who’s going to use the horse for meat. At least not right away.

The BLM wanted to either euthanize or sell the other horses “without restriction.” That means they would go to auction and almost certainly be bought by buyers who would send them to slaughter. Horse slaughter is effectively banned in the U.S., but the buyers just truck the horses to Canada or Mexico.

So, if the Pickens’ horse plan goes through, we’ll end up with about 60,000 horses instead of 30,000. Our country will effectively double its wild horse population. (I don’t think we can count the 30,000 in holding pens now as wild anymore.) Sure, the ones on Pickens’ proposed retirement home will be sterilized. But they’ll still be enjoying life.

And we’ll still be able to go see them. In fact, Pickens is a huge animal lover, so she says she’ll allow dogs. That’s a big contrast to the east coast’s Chincoteague, which almost superstitiously doesn’t allow them on the island.

Plus, Pickens is already thinking about taking in more wild horses as they get moved off the range. And discarded race horses. And–down the road–even other animals.

This could become the best animal tourist destination in the country. I can’t wait to visit.

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1 comment to Madeleine Pickens Would Effectively Double the US Wild Horse Population

  • Anonymous

    We cant thank the pickens enough for doing the right thing for the horses. For years the BLM has favored the Cattle Industry over our wild hertiage and for years the BLM has mismanaged the funds for the horses. We will be happy and Honor to pay visits to such a place for our American Horses. The Pickens has reclaimed American Hertiage and preserved it for us all. For more info about the abuse and neglect BLM supports visit