BLM Declines Wild Horse Refuge Offer

Officials with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have declined Madeleine Pickens' proposal to create a refuge for as many as 30,000 wild horses on grounds that the plan is not viable under current federal law.

Pickens, wife of Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens, offered to establish the sanctuary for horses currently in BLM long-term holding facilities last year after the agency announced it would consider euthanizing some of the animals.

Pickens' proposal placed the refuge on a 1 million-acre Nevada site that incorporated both public and private lands, and requested a $500 per horse, per year BLM stipend to fund a nonprofit foundation to oversee the horses' care.

But under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act of 1971, stipends are paid only to private landowners who care for federally-owned horses. And because public portions of the site lie outside grazing areas designated by the Act, federally-owned horses cannot be located there.

Despite the proposal's pitfalls, Nevada State BLM Director Ron Wenker said he hopes Pickens will consider other options.

"We could contract the foundation to care for the wild horses on private land, or we could give her title to the horses making them private property without compensation," Wenker said. "We haven't closed the door."

Pickens' spokesman Jay Rosser was unavailable for comment.

About the Author

Pat Raia

Pat Raia is a veteran journalist who enjoys covering equine welfare, industry, and news. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her Tennessee Walking Horse, Sonny.

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