Madeline Pickens and the Texas Horse Connection
Your humble web spider found a rather interesting intersection in the TexWeb this week. It seems that Madeline Pickens, wife of Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, is close friends with Skip Trimble's wife, Mary.
T. Boone donated $458 million dollars to Oklahoma State University (OSU) in Stillwater several years ago which funded their new football stadium. There is evidence that Madeline used her influence to help nix a National Institute of Health (NIH) study of anthrax infection in baboons. An OSU spokesman downplayed the fear that their school could be the target of animal rights extremists if they decided to undertake the research, but nevertheless, the program has been cancelled.
Spidey wanted to know more about Madeline Pickens and soon discovered her passion to save the wild mustangs and burros of the West. While this is a noble cause, there is more to the story. Mrs. Pickens has launched an effort to buy a ranch in Nevada to build a state of the art sanctuary that would become home to 30,000 wild horses that are currently in government run holding facilities throughout the U.S..
The Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 prohibits commercial capture of wild horses but mandates government roundups. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) must offer the horses for adoption but can sell the remainder "without restriction" which includes euthanization or slaughter. The BLM does plan to purchase two "preserves" with $96 million dollars of taxpayer money that would provide rangeland for about 7,000 of the horses. Though the current BLM facilities are full, still another 12,000 horses of newly rounded up animals will be added to current holding facilities.
In the 1990s - the BLM was caught selling excess wild mustangs to slaughterhouses. This led to a public outcry, headed by various animal rights organizations. Skip Trimble was a very vocal activist in the campaign to pass legislation outlawing ALL horse slaughter in the U.S. So what does one do with an old horse when the owner is not allowed to euthanize it? The consequences of this law has caused needless suffering to both horses and people. Horses that can no longer be cared for are set free to meet a fate worse than humane slaughter. Sometimes the horse's teeth wear down and so it loses weight. People have been targeted by "rescue" groups who fine owners of old horses, charging them with "starving" them and worse.
Pickens wants to spend $25 to $50 million dollars to purchase land for a larger sanctuary and has her eye on 1,000,000 acres in Nevada. In fact, this idea has been around since 2001, when a report was made to the Nevada legislature from the Commission for the Preservation of Wild Horses regarding the feasibility for the creation of a private non-profit national wild horse and burro foundation. She hopes to fund this Sanctuary with private dollars, thus saving the American taxpayer nearly $700 million by 2010.
A Congressional Hearing before the Committee on Natural Resources was held on March 3, 2009 regarding H.R. 1018 - The Restore Our American Mustangs (ROAM) Act. Witnesses at the hearing included Madeline Pickens, Wayne Pacelle and D.J. Schubert, a wildlife biologist with the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI).
Supporters, board and committee members of Madeline's organizations include Troy Aikman – NFL Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys QB & Super Bowl MVP; Jenny Craig – Founder, Jenny Craig, Inc.; Mark Cuban – Owner, NBA Dallas Mavericks; Jerry Jones – Owner, NFL Dallas Cowboys; June Jones –Chairman, Southern Methodist University “Mustangs”; Toby Keith —country music singer from Moore, Oklahoma; Rudy Ruettiger – Notre Dame Football Legend and real life inspiration for the movie “Rudy”; Junior Seau — NFL All-Pro Linebacker for San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins & NE Patriots; Emmitt Smith — NFL All-Pro Running Back for the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals; Roger Staubach – NFL Hall of Fame former Dallas Cowboys QB & Super Bowl MVP; Barry Switzer — former Dallas Cowboys head football coach and former head coach for the University of Oklahoma; Thurman Thomas — NFL Hall of Fame Running Back and Doug Williams – Super Bowl MVP, former Washington Redskins QB.
So far, so good. But of course, there is a fly in the horse ointment. HSUS is right in the big middle of this campaign. Did Mrs. Pickens say $700 million dollars???? HSUS doesn't provide their support and advice for free, you know, and they always have their own agenda in mind. The AWI also weighed in (or is that neighed in) with their criticism of the BLM's management, or lack thereof, of the captured mustangs.
Perhaps the private, non-profit sector could indeed do a better job caring for the wild horses than the bureaucrats, but please make sure that donations go directly to caring for the horses and not into funding more animal rights propaganda!
According to their website, "a number?" of wild horses are being maintained by the Wild Horse Rescue Foundation and boarded at the 111-acre RMR Ranch in Franklin, Texas.
Ray Field, Director of the WHF poses with Wayne Pacelle
Seeing Wayne's picture reminds me that I should add just a little information about the HSUS/Fund for Animals Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, east of Dallas. Their 2007 990 reflects net assets of $6,823,762, with $1,903,943 set aside specifically for the Texas Ranch, the FFA Wildlife Center in CA and the Cape Wildlife Center in MA. The FFA also maintains the Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) which provides services to poor communities via voluntary vet students. The 990 lists gifts, grants and contributions received from 2003 - 2006 of $25,804,103. How's that for private sector fundraising, HSUS style?
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
In another glaring example of AR hypocrisy,( excerpt from a book by Kathleen Marquardt.) The FFA, founded by Cleveland Amory, purchased animals at livestock auctions for its Black Beauty ranch and used those animals to make a great deal of money. Ranch manager, Billy Saxon, was caught running a hog and cattle business on the side and intermingled his business with the sanctuary's. He admitted to breeding boars rescued from slaughter and breeding them to sows at the Ranch to sell at slaughter. Wayne Pacelle was aware of Saxon's cattle raising business, but kept him on because he was a darned good ranch manager. Armory was shocked that anyone could believe that Saxon did not care about the animals and yet, all other livestock producers and breeders are labeled animal "exploiters" and worse. Do you think anything has really changed?
Your Tax Dollars At Work
Unfortunately, the wild horses and burros can devastate commercial farm and ranch land, which simply cannot support the increasing herd sizes. In order to maintain healthy rangelands, the BLM works to remove excess horses from the range . The 2010 BLM budget proposes an increase of $26.5 million from 2009, totaling $57,486,000. In order to maintain healthy rangelands, the horses must be removed and relocated but their food and care takes money and those prices continue to rise.
Supporters of the program budget argue that the money will be returned to the agricultural sector in feed costs, veterinary care and so forth, but hey, that is still ALOT OF HAY! At the same time, few natural predators have resulted in thriving wild horse and burro populations that increase in number each year. Some birth control methods are in use, but are not cost effective or have not proven to be effective. The number of adoptions have severely dropped due to the economy.
BLM partners with many organizations, including historic trail organizations, the Forest Service the National Park Service, the Nature Conservancy, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, the governments of Mexico and Canada, educational institutions, and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Many contracts and interagency agreements include performance based outcomes.
The Wild Horse and Burro Resource Management Program No. 15.229 (search 15. DAG Wild Horse and Burro) received $18,136,619 in appropriated tax payer dollars from 2000 to 2008. Note - the 2008 and 2009 expenditures are not completely tallied. The Colorado Correctional Industries received nearly $3.5 million; the Nevada Department of Corrections - apprx. $3.3 million; Colo Correctional Industries in Juniper Valley $3.1 million; the Nevada Department of Corrections - $1.2 and the Mustang Heritage Foundation received little over $1 million. Other recipients include Hutchinson KS Correctional Industries, Wyoming Department of Corrections, National Wild Horse and Burro Foundation, Medical College of Ohio, and the National Wild Horse Association in Nevada.
I did find this link to the Texas based Wild Horse Foundation's radio program at the bottom of a webpage, along with a message that I tend to agree with. The writer is sympathetic to people who have their animals seized due to unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances, such as loss of income and ever increasing prices. Readers are told that they have some rights and not all non-profits are out to make money off the animals they take. (But as we know, some do and they have incentive to do so)
Direct Quote, "Many times I could have screamed holy murder only that I realized that people to have the right to get help and can be a victim a long with there pets in this day of economic problems. This year alone we have investigate and acted positive over 117 cases of large animal cruelty cases and not once will you hear about us banging down the door to the media for these unfortunate issues. Our policy is to help through, PREVENTION THROUGH EDUCATION BY MEANS OF ASSISTANCE. Assistance does not mean money, it's better management ideas, it's educational courses offered through the local universities or community colleges, it's TEAM building with neighbors to help when crisis hits. The Wild Horse Foundation Board has made it stance on helping by not demeaning either humans or animals in these difficult times. We always point out the better solutions, minimize the amount of animals when we can, find homes by either friends, neighbors or shelters. We encourage that when you can't contribute money to the shelter for taking your animals to please donate time through volunteering so that others may learn. So many people like to help that when it comes time to actually do a case, everyone is a critic or has something negative to say when they have never been in any person shoes but there own. Remember, walk a mile in there shoes before you make a judgment call. Get all the facts, make all the right choices, and remember you could be next, so treat with kindness! The shows are about learning, getting it right and prevention."
Well, the sentiment is good even if the grammar is not.
Spidey has known people that adopted wild mustangs, and they were quite dismayed by the costly and lengthy process. Similarly, private foundations that adopt out these horses, must follow the same federal guidelines.
Check out the wild horse adoption procedure with BLM.
The potential adoptee must provide a minimum of 400 square feet (20 feet x 20 feet) for each animal adopted. Until fence broken, adult horses need to be maintained in an enclosure at least six feet high; burros in an enclosure at least 4.5 feet high; and horses less than 18 months old in an enclosure at least five feet high. You should not release an ungentled animal into a large open area, such as a pasture, since you may not be able to recapture the animal for training or to provide veterinary care. However, once the animal is gentled, you may release it into a pasture or similar area.
The acceptable corral must be sturdy and constructed out of poles, pipes, or planks (minimum 1.5 inch thickness) without dangerous protrusions. Barbed wire, large-mesh woven, stranded, and electric materials are unacceptable for fencing.
Posts should be a minimum of six inches in diameter and spaced no farther than eight feet apart. Horizontal rails should be three-inch minimum diameter poles or planks at least two feet x eight feet. If you use poles, there should be a minimum of five horizontal rails, and when you use 2" x 8" planks, there should be at least four rails. No space between rails should exceed 12". You should fasten all rails to the inside of the post with either heavy nails or lag screws.
You must provide shelter from inclement weather and temperature extremes for your adopted wild horse or burro. Shelters must be a two-sided structure with a roof, well-drained, adequately ventilated, and accessible to the animal(s). The two sides need to block the prevailing winds and need to protect the major part of the bodies of the horse or burro. Tarps are not acceptable.
If you meet all the adoption requirements, an adoption application must be sent to the BLM office in your region. Potential adoptors must also sign a written contract with the BLM or horse rescue requirements.
Furthermore, the following oath must be signed at the time of the actual adoption: "Under penalty of prosecution for violating 18 U.S.C. 1001, which makes it a federal crime to make false statements to any agency of the United States, I hereby state that I have no intent to sell this wild horse or burro for slaughter or bucking stock, or for processing into commercial products, within the meaning of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, 16 U.S.C. 1331 et seq., and regulations 43 CFR 4700.0-5(c)."
The cost of caring for a wild horse or burro can exceed $1,000 per year. Adoptors are responsible for all costs associated with the care of the animals, including foals if the mares or jennies are pregnant. Costs for stall/corral rental, shoeing, worming, vaccinations and other vet costs, insecticides, salt and supplements, tack and food must be taken into consideration.
Note: If your adopted wild horse or burro escapes from your property, you are responsible for any and all costs associated with recovery of the animal.
The BLM provides pre-adoption medical care and a record of the animal’s medical history, including a negative Coggins test which indicates that the animal does not have equine infectious
A wild horse or burro belongs to the federal government until the BLM issues you a certificate of title. After you have had the animal for one year, the BLM will send you a title eligibility letter. You must obtain a signed statement from a qualified person (such as a veterinarian, county extension agent, or humane official) verifying that you have provided humane care and treatment for your adopted animal. Once you sign and return the letter, the BLM will mail the title to you and the animal becomes your private property.
The BLM holds adoptions at temporary locations throughout the United States year round. You can find BLM adoption centers in the following Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. Some of the facilities are "staging corrals" and hold only wild animals. Others go to "preparation centers" that train the horses. Several of these training centers are run by state prisons and correctional facilities and use prison labor to break and gentle the mustangs.
The state of New Mexico BLM office will pay adoptors a one-time payment of $500 to assist with care and feeding costs. The incentive is not payable if the adopted mustang dies or is returned to the BLM.
The Wild Horse Foundation in Texas follows similar guidelines. The initial fee is $125 for an "ungentle/untamed" horse; $125 for special needs horses; $500 for halter/lead horses and $800 for saddled are ready for saddle horses.
Hill County Texas officials handed down a decision by Judge Eugene Fulton regarding cruelty and abuse when the Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT) was awarded custody of 237 horses, cattle and other livestock seized by officials. HSNT incurred costs in excess of $30,000 (see the THLN instructions for tallying up costs). The WHF removed itself from this case for liability reasons.
The Wild Horse Foundation did work on an animal seizure involving over 230 head of cattle and 29 horses. The local Sheriff Department was the complainant. Bond was set at $600,000.00, with 10% of that amount payable at the time of the defendant's release. The horses were awarded outside the county, for security reasons, to Blue Bonnet Equine Rescue who had to call another rescue to help them. Interestingly the WHF posted this statement:
"The problem with rescues is that they think they have to take everything when they are called or they won't be called back again and this in most cases places the animals in a more precarious position. The foundation has many times baled out other rescues because they don't know when to say "no". Quantity does not ever mean better in any case. Responsibility by a rescue means telling a local law enforcement group that your at capacity and seek help by calling the next number on the list and so on so forth. This particular rescue will have these horses placed out into foster homes and making a donation to the rescue will not benefit the individual fosters homes because the money will not be pass down to each foster home for there use. This is the only fall back in using this type of rescue. The donation goes one place while the animal is somewhere else being cared for out of someone else pocket."
Well, there it is -straight from the Horse Foundation's mouth. Spidey certainly can't disagree with that.
In the meantime, we at A&N urge everyone to champion and support legitimate animal welfare projects and organizations.