Saturday, November 22, 2008

Second "Pickens Plan" No Better Than the First

A sensible editorial in yesterday's Casper Star-Tribune, pasted below, explains why the proposed creation of a private wild horse refuge, while well-intended, just doesn't deal with the underlying problem. But you can bet papers on the East and West coasts, as disconnected as they are from the reality of such things, will be gushing over this "Pickens plan" even more than they gushed over the other one.

Public lands policy must be dictated by realism and rationality, not romanticism and emotionalism. But when and where nature and animals are concerned, the former fly out the window and the eco-emos (see responses below) rule.

Proposed horse refuge won't solve problems
Star-Tribune Editorial Board

It sounds like a solution to a costly federal problem: a privately financed wild horse refuge that will be home to excess animals from the Western range. A place where thousands of wild horses can live out their remaining days in relative peace.

But while it's commendable that Madeline Pickens, the wife of oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, wants to foot the bill for a million-acre sanctuary, everyone needs to realize that her effort alone is not the answer.

The issue poses a public relations nightmare for the Bureau of Land Management, the agency in charge of wild horses and burros in 10 Western states, including Wyoming. The animals are protected under a 1971 law enacted by Congress, but as a last resort the BLM has the authority to kill or sell excess horses without restriction from slaughter.This week the agency considered euthanizing some of the wild horses, but fearing a huge public outcry, it decided to delay taking such action. Instead, it will reduce roundups and shuffle its budget to get through the current fiscal year.

It was a safe move politically, but eventually the agency will have to deal directly with the problem. Here's why:The BLM rounds up wild horses from herds that have grown too large to be sustained by the available forage, and makes them available for adoption by the public. But adoptions have significantly waned in recent years.Meanwhile, there are about 33,000 wild horses on public rangelands -- 4,500 in Wyoming -- and the BLM wants to cut the total to 27,000 so the herds can survive.

Another 30,000 wild horses and burros are now kept, at a huge cost, in short-term and long-term holding facilities across the country. A BLM facility at Rock Springs has a capacity of 600 animals. This year the agency will spend about $27 million -- about three-fourths of its wild horse and burro budget -- just to care for the animals. Some of the horses may spend 20 or more years in captivity. The Government Accountability Office estimated last week that continuing current practices would require a budget of $58 million next year, and up to $77 million in 2012.

Pickens says she loves seeing wild horses on the range and considers them part of our national heritage. So do many Americans who aren't as rich as her. Are they willing to adopt them so they won't be killed? The million acres Pickens wants to buy for her refuge may sound like a lot, but it won't begin to be enough to handle all of the animals now being held, the 6,000 the BLM needs to cull from the current herds, and future excess animals. Pickens says she will never turn down an animal, but at some point the refuge -- if it becomes a reality -- will simply run out of room.

The agency can't stall the inevitable. Americans need to understand that unless people agree to support the program and adopt more wild horses than ever before, logic and budget realities dictate that the BLM will be forced to sell some of the animals for humane slaughter. The public education process should begin now, so people will know precisely what's at stake and why.


Anonymous said...

Hmm Seems you have no plans for the future of responsiblity than to rant your mouth on mixed words that hide the truth. You fail to mention the BLM has mismanage there operations in accordance to the wants of the Cattle Industries lies. The Same Cattle industry that was getting $3.00 per head horse slaughtered at Texas Plants The same organization that trie to sue oprah for her free speach to never eat a hamburger again. I wish the whole cattle industry would just shut there big mouths up. We are tired of the ignorant cowboy rodeo show and abuse and neglect they support. Seems Sean only see slaughter as the way of fixing everything also that in reality the Cattle Industry wants the wild land for there cattle which only pays $1.00 per head grazing on our public wild lands..Hey I got an idea lets charge them $25.00 a head then we can raise the funds to give it to the Rescues that are trying to fix the problems these overbreeders associations are creating like the AHQA,APHA and start punishing these backyard breeders that promote abuse and neglect.. Slaughter is not the answer its responsiblity.

Anonymous said...

You seem to write the easy way. Take little thought to an issue and spew a bit of bitter. You appear to think simple about issues, including the wild horse situation. Sure, there have to be other actions and those are under way. However, Mrs. Pickens, unlike you, decided to take action and not attempt to dazzle Internet searchers with her fancy writing style. Maybe that is the problem with American's today. We have blogs for those every growing hind ends and expanding waistlines who don't really do anything in life but feel the need to share their intelligence (insert sarcasm if you didn't catch it) behind a glowing computer screen. So, I too am stepping away from the computer and moving forward to do something with my life. You can keep typing away, if only to amuse yourself.

Anonymous said...

You obviously have not done your homework. You choose to not mention the 8 million beef cattle that are allowed to take over the range the horses are supposed to have to run free as the "wildlife" they are. The BLM has grossly mismanaged the herds and have caused much of the overpopulation. The issue is much deeper and wider than your narrow view.

vicki said...

While you are certainly correct that Ms. Pickens' efforts will not solve the problem, you have not told your readers what the problem is. The problem is the BLM. The problem is the 6 MILLION cattle that are decimating the land. The land belongs to the horses. The cattle are privately owned and belong on their owner's property. The horses were doing just fine. There was no need for round-ups or herd management. Wild horses numbered over 2 million and are down to 16,000-19,000. Who is managing the cattle? Why are 6 Million cattle on the land not an issue but 19,000 horses are? The land is for wild horses and wildlife. Get the cattle off the land. They don't belong there. My tax dollars are going to the BLM to protect the wild horses, not extinct them.

LianeH said...

Just love the misinformation garbage that goes around and around regarding the wild horses and the BLM land.

It is not the horses that are the problem, but the thousand upon thousand cattle that are destroying this precious land that was for the horses.

Get rid of the cows and the cattle men off the BLM land and return the horses back to where they belong then everything will go back to the way it should be and the horses will be free to live the life we guaranteed them years ago.