DALLAS – The wife of Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens said Tuesday she’ll create a refuge for wild horses, after the federal agency that manages the animals said it may have to kill some to control the herds and protect the Western range.
About 33,000 wild horses and burros roam the open range in 10 Western states. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management wants that population to be about 27,000, in order to protect the herd, the range and other foraging animals.
Those horses that are too old or are unadoptable by the public are sent to long-term holding facilities. The BLM now has about the same number of the animals in holding facilities as on the range.
The agency has said the costs of keeping animals in the holding facilities has caused officials to consider euthanasia as a last resort.
Madeleine Pickens told the Associated Press that she has proposed purchasing around 1 million acres to be a refuge for the horses now in holding facilities and that the BLM has agreed to give her the horses once she has the land.
BLM spokesman Tom Gorey said the agency welcomes the offer.
Pickens said animals brought to the refuge will be sterilized, and she will be able to take the extra horses the BLM takes out of the wild each year as well.
Pickens said she is negotiating the purchase of the land but would not say where it was. She’s also creating a foundation to help with the project.
Pickens, the child of a British father and Lebanese mother who grew up in the Middle East and went to school in England and France, said she always had a love for the West and wild horses.
“It’s such a beautiful sight to see,” Pickens said. “This is our national heritage, and it needs to be preserved.”