Saving America’s Mustangs: A Prospectus

Recently, Madeleine Pickens purchased the 14,000 acre Spruce Ranch and gained control of adjacent BLM livestock grazing allotments amounting to 500,000 acres between Wells and Ely, Nevada.

This private land acquisition and control of the associated public lands sets the stage for Pickens’ intent to create a wild horse sanctuary for 10,000 wild horses in northeastern Nevada.

Saving America’s Mustangs: A Prospectus

The Pickens proposal raises many legal and regulatory issues that will need to be addressed by the BLM before any such sanctuary could be created.

Among the issues include questions about her proposal to fence the “Ranch” (presumably meaning the entire 500,000 acres of public lands) to keep horses in as well has her proposal to add horse management facilities and visitor services buildings and related developments – possibly on public lands.

It is also not clear whether the horses would be owned by the sanctuary and therefore subject to BLM management as livestock or whether the BLM would need to create some newly defined special use permit for the sanctuary.

It likely that it will require an act of Congress to actualize many of the objectives as the prospectus envisions.

In any case, much BLM work would need to be done to comply with NEPA and FLPMA absent Congressional authorization that would withdraw the public lands at issue from the public domain. Such a withdrawn area would then require some new designation such as a ‘National Wild Horse and Burro Sanctuary’.

That and other possible outcomes will become very controversial very quickly ! Since Mrs. Pickens has already bought the “Ranch”, one wonders if the BLM has already agreed in some fashion to a preconceived outcome ?

Note that Mrs. Pickens also wants the BLM to pay the sanctuary $500 per horse per year ! For 10,000 horses that would be $5,000,000 per year !

About The Author

Brian Ertz

100 Responses to Madeleine Pickens 'buys the Ranch' setting the stage for wild horse sanctuary in northeastern Nevada

  1. Ryan says:

    Are they going to remove the horses from the BLM range in winter or is there going to be 10000 horses on it 24/365? If its typical desert range, the takes anywhere from 500 to 3000 acres to support a cow calf pair just through the summer. Putting 10K horses on it sounds like an ecological disaster.

    • Victoria Bond says:

      Yes it takes approx 1 section to support 1 large animal. Also water is an issue and water rights. A well can cost as much as $50,000 for just a domestic well. Who will pay for the wells on BLM? Who will pay for the water to support the visitors? The horses currently roam between the Rubies, East Humbolts, Wood Hills and Pequops. Also game routes will be restricted by the fences? Who is protecting the elk, the deer, the coyotes, the moose? These are native animals. The horses are an invasive species and not native. Maybe the FBO can be improved at the Wells airport —to support the Gulfstream–if runway can support the weight.

  2. Jeff says:

    Exactly, habitat destruction is habitat destruction. I’d like to buy horse and rice dog food—humane slaughter and use of feral horses is the only logical solution to this issue. I’m not advocating their removal from public lands, but their numbers must be managed, excess animals auctioned and extras shipped to humane US slaughterhouses.

    • tiffany says:

      Im sure in the wild horses eyes the same could be said about us. They were brought over the North America when the settlers came. They have every right as us to be on this land. Theres other ways than slaughtering them. The human population has risen dramatically but no ones saying “hey lets make the ones we dont want into dog food.” We are animals just the same as them. Just we hold our selves on a pedistool and then think that gives us the right to decide who or what animal should be able to live or which should be banished.

  3. Brian Ertz says:

    the provocative issue for me is the potential that this has to break open the BLM grazing regs in such a way that pressures agency to recognize and makes way for alternative uses of public lands.

    currently, the BLM grazing regs reflect an antiquated public land policy that exclusively serves Livestock.

    reforming this archaic administration of public lands is a struggle because much of the bureaucratic/administrative/regulatory/legal inertia favors the grazing use of public lands ~ to an extent that is exclusive and doesn’t reflect what most of the public value or believe.

    That’s a broken system.

    As we demonstrate time and time again with our successful lawsuits, the BLM administration of public land is so antiquated/outdated that it doesn’t even reflect environmental values that the public has passed into law such as NEPA, ESA, NFMA, FLPMA, etc. etc. etc.

    Madeleine Pickens is an advocate of horses and is a very powerful advocate. Her advocacy is colliding with that bureaucratic inertia Livestock exclusively enjoys in many of the same ways that advocates of wildlife and ecosystems have ~ it’s testing the Public Land Ranching Supremacy that’s codified as a matter of administrative rule and statute alike. Just in order to successfully acquire the policy objective described on account of the horses, she is necessarily agitating the way that it is.

    New values/uses of public lands are catching up and exerting pressure on the Good Ol’ Boy system ~~ any (if not, most) pressure applied to that closed system is progress and potentially contributes to the opportunity to create a new space where policy-change that expedites an administration that more closely reflects a diversity of growing and expanding public interests, including conservation, is possible …

  4. Ryan says:


    She’s grazing livestock on public lands, only difference is that’s its not for as much profit. There is nothing revolutionary about that.

    • Brian Ertz says:


      you’re probably right 🙂

    • jdubya says:

      I agree with Ryan, this is simply a re-tread. If she wants to stick these horses on her 14,000 acres, fine, but she should leave those BLM grazing rights alone and let the grass re-grow.

      What is funny about this to me is that there is a wild horse sanctuary in Osage County in Oklahoma. The cowboys owning this land get the check from the Gov’t to allow these horses to grow to infirm age on hillsides with lush grass and scrubb oak growth. A much better place for these horses than the Nevada desert.

      • mikepost says:

        The non-profit aspect is a red herring as well. She will still have substantial overhead and will no doubt be into supplemental feeding before long. That will pressure her into maximizing the forage take on the BLM lands, just like every other for profit grazer. She idolizes the horse, not the land.

        It is not hard to imagine a feral horse ghetto full of gaunt and sick animals in the midst of a bone covered dusty wasteland within 3-5 years. This could be the ultimate “collector” disaster for the animal regulation folks….

  5. bob jackson says:

    Brian is right…it does open up traditinal cattle – sheep lands to non traditional “stock”….like bison. It is a first step in mainstream public exposure. Bison permit have been issued before in Idaho but Ms. Pickens highlites these alternatives.

  6. Brian Ertz says:

    I would certainly prefer the allotments be rested. 10,000 horses on 500,000 acres will pound the landscape.

    Unfortunately, as easy as it might be to suggest Madeleine Pickens just put the horses on private land and rest the public land allotments ~ let me explain how BLM works as the Rules & Regs now stand:

    if you don’t put stock on the land ~ your permit gets revoked for lack of use (i’ve been working on this little gem for a couple of years on the E.Fork Salmon) and is subject to use/transfer to another permittee that is willing to pound the landscape with their cattle. That’s de facto mandatory battery of the landscape by Livestock – and it’s the way that managers are interpretting the rules & regs to have it now (hopefully we’re successful on the E.Fork at gaining clarification otherwise), the technical way about that depends on the RMP.

    That’s what I mean by a locked down system that needs agitated and why we don’t have the benefit of postulating about how Madeleine Pickens ought just “rest” the allotments.

    An enemy of the Enemy introducing alternative uses of those allotments disrupts that lock-down/Monopoly, potentially creating opportunity for reform that might better include long-term/permanent “rest” of allotments, as suggested. Without said disruption — the rules & regs stay as they are (mandatory battery of the landscape) with no onus to change the status quo.

    • Ryan says:


      Stop me where I am wrong, this isn’t an alternative use as I understand it and from what I read, she actually expects to get paid by BLM to house the horses that will destroy the fraglie desert ecosystems.
      I know a public land rancher just north of the border in Oregon. They run 1000 head on 330,000 acres just in the summer. He said that the feed there could maybe support 200 more possibly. They pull their stock off in September and put them on in March each year.
      I understand the alternative uses, but this is a bad idea.

      • Brian Ertz says:


        you’re probably right ~ the numbers seem significantly off ~ the developments proposed (i.e. giant fences to surround the whole thing, buildings) would be a wildlife disaster ~ etc. etc. etc. ~

    • Jay says:

      Destroy the village to save it–I don’t think that’s really the way to go about it.

      • Brian Ertz says:

        my optimism about this has very little to do with the actual proposal (see: questions about fencing/buildings/numbers/etc) and much more to do with the prospect that the wild-horse advocates (who have inroads in washington), facing Welfare Ranching’s supremacy in the west ~ has the potential to align public-interest groups & likewise resources & efforts in such a way that could effect policy across the west.

  7. Paul White says:

    Jeez, why can’t we return something native there? Horses are introduced..if she was trying to return bison or something I’d be all over it.

  8. Nancy says:

    Paul White Says:
    October 13, 2010 at 12:47 PM
    Jeez, why can’t we return something native there? Horses are introduced..if she was trying to return bison or something I’d be all over it.

    Gotta ask Paul, how do WE decide something is native and deserving to be on the landscape?

    Horses were here around the ice age as were buffalo, elk, wolves and a host of other animals. And from a prehistoric standpoint – none of them look the way they look today.

    SaveBears & I had this conversation not long ago. Yes, horses were RE-introduced a few centuries ago (and, they had no problem reverting back to the wild when given the chance) but from what I understand, they are genetically linked to prehistoric horses, so why not the same consideration?

    Mankind has gotten really good (and sloppy) over the centuries, domesticating and modifying many species for food, labor and entertainment. And then we spit out the rest (as in unwanted dogs, cats, horses, pigs etc…… it is a long list) hoping someone (or some organization) with a big heart, lots of money and time on their hands, will step forward to clean up or address the mess we continue to leave in our wake, when it comes to other species.

    • skyrim says:

      I’ll leave it to others to debate the “native” issue, but I like your perspective in the content of your post, particularly the last paragraph. Nice job……
      Having spent some time with a small herd in Nevada, and leaving out entirey the damage these big animals have on the landscape, I can tell you there is really not many things as beautiful as a well toned Mustang running wild and free without much sign of any fences to hold him back.

    • Paul White says:

      That’s a question I have continued to ask; but the horses were extinct here for millenia and were (relatively) recently re-established. Maybe if we had a more intact ecosystem it wouldn’t matter–if they had predators and competitors in much of their range. But they don’t.
      But I do get what you’re saying about introduced species; how long till we accept them as belonging to a particular ecosystem? Are house geckos, the flowerpot snake, the earthworm, all still thought of as exotics her in NA? And if they are exotic, are they detrimental?

    • Jay says:

      Well elephants are related to mastodons and wooly mammoths that went extinct 10,000 years ago–why don’t we turn some of them loose on the landscape?

    • Ryan says:


      No native predator effecitvely predates on horses, just like feral hogs. Hence the population explosions (growth rates above 25% a year in many populations). The creatures are still thought of as exotic by people in the know (although I would be hard pressed to pick out the non native earth worm as roughly a thrid are non native) and I’d be the first to admit I don’t know anything about the flower pot snake. That being said the Gekos and worms do modify the native ecosystem and push out native flora and fauna. It is thought that the non native earth worms break down leafs quicker and are changing the soil make up in certain forests changing the overall plant life.

      It all pales in comparision to the damage wild horses and burros do to the western ecosystem. If one wants to see what just horses are capable of, head to Sheldon NWR. There are no cows, just shit loads of horses and burros. The only reason that people like them is that they associate them with domestics. Its clearly a case of emotion triumphing over logic IMHO.

  9. Nancy says:

    Ryan, Ginger Kathrens has been studying and filming groups of wild horses in the Arrowhead Mountains for years and claims the cougar take a good percentage of newborns because like elk, the mares will go off alone to give birth. Although the biggest threat to these wild horses seems to be livestock grazing on public lands, hence the roundups.

    • Ryan says:

      Aren’t horses just livestock grazing on public lands? The vast vast majority of them don’t have any “spanish genes”. Just a cuter feral cat or hog imho that have no place on our public lands.

    • Save bears says:

      Wild horses are nothing more than another feral livestock species taking up space on public lands..the north american horse died out and went extinct, these are not north american horses…

      • Nancy says:

        Maybe so SB but wild horses seem to fall into a few different areas (unlike sheep and cattle)

        Horses were once considered beasts of burden and without them, the west would of taken much longer to populate. Both native americans and the white man found them useful for hunting, hauling and war.

        They are beloved whether wild or domesticated. Anyone living in rural areas, all across the country, either has one, knows someone with one or knows someone with a dozen or more.

        But they also seem to be considered nothing more than livestock in the west.

        Listened to a radio show the other day and while the talk at that time slot usually has to do with rodeo results (a sport that would be hard to accomplish WITHOUT horses) a group of college kids were in the studio giving their opinions on the ban regarding the slaughter of horses in this country (and they were not talking about wild horses) they were talking about the domesticated surplus of horses (because too many in the west breed and hope for the “next best” cow, roping, etc. horse instead of a canner)

        Kind of like ranchers when it comes to the neutering and spaying of their ranch dogs. A rancher down the road from me just had 13 puppies between two females and this was not the first time these females had had litters. “Yep, might be a good cow dog in the bunch” But what about the rest?

        These kids seemed to have a grasp on the idea of only breeding superior horse lines but we all know how well that’s gone when it comes to dogs and “registered pedigrees and puppy mills” right?
        USDA has been in charge of licensing and checking on those disgusting facilities for years and the only time you hear about how bad they really are is when they are finally raided and shut down and, make the news or Oprah.

        And sorry if I got way off point here but, if Mrs. Pickens wants to rescue wild horses who stand in holding pens with no chance at a decent life and provide a place for them – kudos to her.

      • Save bears says:


        You might want to take a look at some of the historical texts around and check on the number of families could not afford horses and used Oxen to help populate the west. I also know a good many rodeo riders, and the majority of them got their start…riding cows or Mules, another non-native animal..

        I think, personally after working in the wild animal field for many years now, the Picken’s is just throwing her money around, everybody has to have a cause, and she has found her’s

        Never once have I expressed I didn’t like horses, but I think the romanticism with horses is very much misplaced in America and they are a very detrimental species to wild areas in America…with quite a bit of displacement of native species..

  10. Nancy says:

    SB, is the romanticism misplaced or misdirected, depending on the species and their niche (or value) to the land and the people?

    • Save bears says:

      I think the romanticism is misplaced on many species. I look at it from a scientific viewpoint, which is why I understand the interaction between all of the native species, of course as my views do not often jive with many people, not only on this blog, but in many areas, my viewpoints are rarely popular.

      Personally, I don’t look at individual species, I look at intact ecosystems..and I will always favor those native species over introduced species..

      And note, I said introduced, not re-introduced…

  11. Nancy says:

    I am really trying to relate here SB. Are wild (or as some call them feral) horses who’ve been in some areas for close to a century or more, really doing damage to the landscape or is it all about cattlemen whining and wanting those public lands intact for their cattle?

    • Save bears says:


      I have had the opportunity to study some of the areas that feral horses inhabit, and I can tell you, yes, they are doing damage to the native environment as well as the native species that inhabit those areas. One little fact that seems to be missed by many is the hoof structure of a horse compared to the hoof structure of many native species, when horses inhabit an area, their hoof structure contributes to compaction as opposed to the normal hoof structure that actually tills land or break up the dirt, allowing for seeds to take root, another area they cause problems is their digestive system is very inefficient, one of the major reasons for knapweed spread is horses.

    • Save bears says:

      And by the way, just so we don’t get off topic, I am against public lands ranching and have fought against it for many years, so I am showing no favoritism to ranchers

  12. Nancy says:

    So SB, the solution would be to rid all public lands of anything non-native?

    • Save bears says:


      Now your talking impossibles, we can’t rid the land of all non-native species, but I would like to see far more management of non-native species.

      If we are ever to hope to attain a more balanced ecosystem, we are going to have to look at what non-native species are inhabiting those ecosystems.

      And simply stated, the horses that currently inhabit the ecosystems around the America’s are not native, neither are burros, sheep, cows, etc.

      If we are to strive to attain the goals that many profess to want, then we have to look at the impacts of all non-native species, and not ignore those who we have a romantic relationship with.

      And before you say it, humans are part of the native ecosystems in most areas of the country..

      • jon says:

        sb, how do you know the horses are not native? Can you provide a link that says they aren’t native? What makes you believe that these horses are not native? I am not saying you are wrong, but I am curious why you believe this.

      • jon says:

        sb, maybe they aren’t native, but I would imagine that more people prefer wild horses on public lands than say livestock and cattle.

      • Save bears says:


        There is not established genetic link to the north American horse species that went extinct, these are European horses, there is a good fossil record. For some reason, the North American horse, could not adapt and survive on this continent, these horse’s were introduced by the first of the European explorers.

        Does livestock count for what? I am against public land ranching and always have been..and have stated so many times, so I don’t understand your question.

      • Save bears says:


        I know for a fact your right, many people prefer horses over livestock, I would prefer both be gone to help the ecosystem, but I am a realist, and know that is not ever going to happen, I would much prefer to see bison roaming over horses or cows and sheep..

      • Save bears says:

        And again, for the record, I would prefer to see native species on public lands…

      • jon says:

        Alright, thank you for answering me. I have to say that wild hogs seem to be a very big problem in some states and I would bet they do more damage than horses. What are your thoughts on wild hogs sb and the problems that they cause in ecosystems?

      • Save bears says:

        Wild hogs are a blight on the land and displace many species, which is why we need to spend resources eradicating them, we don’t have that particular problem in the west, but in the south east they are destroying habitat at an alarming rate.

      • Save bears says:

        But Jon,

        Both species, horses as well as hogs, do an amazing amount of damage..

      • jon says:

        sb, what do you recommend then? Kill all of the horses? Is it even possible to control a wild hog population?

      • Save bears says:


        It is not possible to kill them all, we know that..

      • jon says:

        sb, take a look at this link.

        Some comments from the article that stand out.

        So with their native species, wildlife status so clearly documented, why do biologists and others refer to wild horses as feral animals today? The answer is politics, which is to say self-serving interests who manage to out shout others in the arena of ruling authority and decision-making power in America today.

        Wildlife groups” consider the bighorn sheep and the American bison “native” to North America. However, both species actually evolved in Asia and came into North America via the Bering Strait land bridge. The horse, Equus caballus, conversely, evolved exclusively in North America and crossed the Bering Strait land bridge into Siberia, traveling in the other direction! Equus caballus fully evolved on the North America continent before they supposedly became extinct about 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.
        So the (wild) horse, Equus caballus, is truly a native species to North America contrary to the myth that they are an exotic, non-native species

        What is your response to this?

      • Save bears says:


        Based on my studies, I believe their science is flawed, they are a centralist group that believes many species originated on the north american continent..but I am simply another opinion is the mix..

      • jon says:

        sb, you said there is no genetic link between, but this article says different. It says these horses are genetically the same as the horses that became extinct on the continent 11,000 and 13,000 years.

        If this is indeed correct, these horses are native wildlife.

        Should the wild horses that roam North America be considered native wildlife? They may have been “introduced” by man, but scientific evidence suggests that are genetically the same as the horses that became extinct on the continent between 11,000 and 13,000 years. In fact, the genus Equus could have been wiped out entirely had it not crossed the Bering Stait land bridge into Eurasia. Jay F. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D. and Patricia M. Fazio, Ph.D.* look at the evidence.

      • Save bears says:


        Again, based on my studies, I consider their work flawed, and will continue to do so, until such time as they can show me unquestionable evidence, which to this date, they have not..

        Anyway, I have said my piece,, Nancy really didn’t need your help, her and I have discussed this in the past, and I suspect we will again in the future..

      • jon says:

        The wild horse in the United States is generally labeled non-native by most federal and state agencies dealing with wildlife management, whose legal mandate is usually to protect native wildlife and prevent non-native species from having ecologically harmful effects. But the two key elements for defining an animal as a native species are where it originated and whether or not it coevolved with its habitat. E. caballus can lay claim to doing both in North America. So a good argument can be made that it, too, should enjoy protection as a form of native wildlife.

      • Elk275 says:

        Save Bears

        I know that you are against public land ranching. I do not like public land ranching in the Snowcrest and Gravellys Mountains, I was there Sunday, the Upper Ruby Valley on the Beaverhead National Forest is a ranch complete with a ranch house on the East Fork of the Ruby. There must have been 20 horse trailers there and many cowboys and maybe a cowgirl or two.This is wrong. The range has reduced for wildlife.

        But how are you going to eliminate public land grazing on interspersed land. Lets take a 5000 acre pasture and with a 160, two 320’s and a section in it, what then. I find the above situation many times more than what is going on in the Rudy.

      • Save bears says:


        I have always been against public lands ranching, but in the way it is currently conducted, I am also a realist, and know we will never get rid of it. It needs to change, and I believe many rancher companies believe it is their land and has lost sight of who really owns the land.

        Again, I have a wish, but I know for a fact it is not a reality…

      • jon says:

        sb, not to start an argument with you, but how is their science flawed and how do you know what science is flawed and what isn’t? From what I am reading, these horses seem to be considered native wildlife by some. Has there been any science out there that you are aware of that says that these horses aren’t native? If there is, please provide a link or something.

        MYTH: Wild horses and burros are exotic, non-native species rightfully categorized as “feral” domestic animals.

        False. The Wild Horses and Burros Act recognizes the wild horse as an “integral component of the natural system.” Paleontological evidence shows that wild horses and burros evolved on the North American continent over the course of some 60,000,000 years. How they disappeared 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, if in fact they actually ever became extinct here, is a mystery. It is suspected that the horses were hunted to near extinction by humans who had crossed the ice bridge into North America. When Cortez landed in Mexico in 1519, he brought horses from Spain. Others followed. From these reintroduced animals came the great numbers of wild horses which eventually changed the culture of the Plains Indians.

        The Spanish horses soon adapted to the same ecological niche their native relatives had once inhabited here. Every trait and characteristic that describes a native wildlife species fits the American wild horse and desert burro. Long before the early settlers and homesteaders pioneered the West, they were here as a reintroduced, fully adapted species. When the U.S. government acquired land through the Louisiana Purchase and from Mexico, also acquired were the wild horses. As many as 3 million wild horses existed on public domain lands. Their home territory stretched from the Carizzo Plains and Santa Lucia Mountains of California, east to Missouri, and north to North Dakota and into Canada.

      • Save bears says:


        As I said, I have said my piece…

      • Elk275 says:

        ++It needs to change, and I believe many rancher companies believe it is their land and has lost sight of who really owns the land. ++

        You can say that again over and over. In some cases isolated parcels should be sold for market value and the proceeds used to puchase other private lands with better utility for the public.

        I am talking about isolated 40 and 80 acres tracts without access.

      • Ryan says:


        Your kidding right, you seem to be at least marginally intelligent. Horses have been naturally extinct off the NA continent 10,000 of the last 10,500 years. The only reason they are here is because they were abandoned by the spanish conquistidors and subsequent farmers, settlers, ranchers, and indians etc.

        While were at it lets bring back the elephants, cheetahs, lions, and camels while were at it. By your theory their native too…

      • jon says:

        Ryan, all of the stuff that I am reading says they are native. Those who say they are not are ones that want them off of public lands, probably ranchers who want to let their non native cattle graze on public lands. The people who want the horses off of the lands and want them killed and claim they are non native have an obvious agenda. And truthfully, I don’t find you very intelligent at all. And the same people saying these things are probably the same type of person that says wolves are non native, but we all know they says that because wolves are eating elk, deer, and moose, animals others want to hunt.

      • jon says:

        Critics of the idea that the North American wild horse is a native animal, using only paleontological data, assert that the species, E. caballus (or the caballoid horse), which was introduced in 1519, was a different species from that which disappeared 13,000 to 11,000 years before. Herein lies the crux of the debate. However, the relatively new (27-year-old) field of molecular biology, using mitochondrial-DNA analysis, has recently found that the modern or caballine horse, E. caballus, is genetically equivalent to E. lambei, a horse, according to fossil records, that represented the most recent Equus species in North America prior to extinction. Not only is E. caballus genetically equivalent to E. lambei, but no evidence exists for the origin of E. caballus anywhere except North America.3

        You continue to deny.

      • Ryan says:

        They went extinct 10K years ago and were reintroduced in a different form by the Spanish. There are not native, they did not evolve with the landscape. How can you not get that? Any credible scientist with out a horse picture on his wall will tell you they are not native..

      • Ryan says:


        I am going to start a big Russel terrier ranch with herds and herds of Jack Russell terriers running around the desert. Maybe I’ll stake off a few sections to run poodles in too. They share a ton of DNA with wolves and coyotes (over 99%) so they must be native too.

        BTW here is a list of animals that went extinct ~10K years ago. I guess those pigs are natural and elephants are native by your theory too.

        If you come out west I’ll take you to Sheldon and then you can see first hand what an ecological disaster horses can be then we’ll drive north to Hart and I’ll show you what the desert should look like.

      • Save bears says:

        Actually the Wiki on Horses is quite interesting, and has a lot of links as well footnotes to links to back up the article, one of the most complete Wiki’s I have ever read..

    • jon says:

      Does livestock count?

  13. Elk275 says:

    ++ to rid all public lands of anything non-native?++

    That’s not practical. I am looking at the Montana Gazetteer, my father and I are going antelope hunting in Eastern Montana, North of the Yellowstone and South of the Missouri River and East of the Musselshell River probably somewhere around Ingomar, Montana. There both public and private land with the ratio of about 25% state and federal land and 75% private. The federal and state lands are interspersed in the private land and 90% of the public land has no access. Most access is only for a section here and there. How are you going to eliminate anything not native to public lands, where the public and private lands are in large 10,000 acres pastures without fencing delineating private and public. The BLM could fence there checker board sections, but fences are great impediment to wildlife and are very costly.

    The BLM for the most part has very little idea where exactly their lands are and every 5 years they transfer employees. It takes a minimum of 5 years to have the knowledge of what’ what. They do have very good maps but where exactly are their lands and they have to get permission from the landowner to cross private land. That is the reality, I wish it were different but between 1909 and 1919 millions of homestead patents were issued, and in the 20’s and 30’s the county acquire the land for back taxes. After World War 2 the land was sold and consolidated into large ranches which today have minimal demand besides livestock production.

    Now this is not the case everywhere, but an example of one area.

  14. jon says:

    They are trying to get rid of burmese pythons in Florida, but there are already thousands. They know they aren’t going to get rid of them all and pythons in FL are there to stay. Americans are not just going to sit back and let wild horses be slaughtered and that is why a lot of people have spoken up as of late.

  15. Nancy says:

    Good question Jon. Guess it depends on the market value.

    Can’t imagine people hunting horses for sport or meat but feral hogs?

    Might of related this story awhile back but while on an interview for a job in Texas years ago at a ranch just outside of Austin, the owner suddenly jumped up, grabbed a rifle and ran out to the deck and fired into the distance at a huge feral hog on his property.

    Before I left, the son had dragged the hog in, butchered it and presented me with part of the hindquarter.

    • Elk275 says:

      There are very good eating.

    • Save bears says:

      I have no problem with eating horse meat either boh hogs and horses are good lean meat, quite tasty…I had a lot of horse meat when I was growing up, and of course, I have traveled extensively around the world while in the military and have eaten a lot of stuff that most US citizens would consider inedible..

    • jon says:

      Nancy, what is your opinion on wild horses being a non native species? When you get a chance, take a look at those links I provided and let me know what you think. sb says it’s flawed science, but let me know what you think.

      • Save bears says:


        The problem I find with current wildlife management whether native or non-native is the emotion that gets involved, I simply do not have the emotional attachment to any one species. The majority of groups allow their emotion to overcome their common sense and logic..

      • Elk275 says:


        You can make anything out of anything if you believe it strongly enough. North American wild horses need to be rounded up and sent to the cannery. I am going to send my horse the canners this fall. I do not trust him, he is getting old and no longer is safe in the mountains. Plus he rears which is very dangerous. There is a new mule next summer.

      • Save bears says:

        And one thing I found out a long time ago, science is always at odds with science, what I believe is not believed by another scientist, and theories are always being contested by another scientist. I am a biologist, and I simply don’t believe in some other biologists theories…

      • Nancy says:

        Jon, ran across another article recently that came to the same kind of conclusions. Will try and find it.

      • jon says:

        Nancy, most of the people that claim horses are not native are ranchers and ones that want them off of public lands. Probably so they can let their cattle graze on them.

      • Elk275 says:


        Please learn something about the west. Visit it now. Stay while and listen. Save Bears wife has a home cooked meal waiting for you. I have a guest bedroom and we can go to the brew pub. You can stay in the Jackson Hotsprings Lodge and visit Nancy.

  16. Nancy says:

    Elk275 Says:
    October 14, 2010 at 9:18 PM

    You can make anything out of anything if you believe it strongly enough. North American wild horses need to be rounded up and sent to the cannery. I am going to send my horse the canners this fall. I do not trust him, he is getting old and no longer is safe in the mountains. Plus he rears which is very dangerous. There is a new mule next summer.

    Curious Elk, and not trying to start an arguement here but would you do the same thing with your favorite dog?

  17. Elk275 says:

    I have never owned a dog, so I can not answer that one.

  18. Nancy says:

    And what’s wrong with emotion SB? Logic doesn’t and should not always address alot of the issues here.

    • Save bears says:


      Nothing wrong at all with emotion, unless it interferes with sound management, which unfortunately now a days, all to often it does..

      If we are ever to learn and balance out what has been screwed up, it should be with science and logic, if we allow emotion to rule, then we are no better than those that came before us and screwed everything up to begin with..

    • Angela says:

      There is nothing wrong with wanting to reduce the suffering of an animal that has served you. The trucking of horses to slaughter is an incredibly inhumane practice and the cattle stunning equipment that is used on them is inadequate, often requiring multiple hits. For the cost of a bullet, you could at least give your horse a dignified exit. Sell the meat to people who feed their dogs raw. Don’t consign it to a brutal trip and inhumane slaughter if you don’t have to.

      Personally, I could never kill a horse–my family kept our old thoroughbred until he died of a natural death in his 30s. My mom loved him very much. It’s amazing to me that you could remain so emotionally detached from an animal like that. I consider it a moral obligation to give the animals in my care the best life I can, and not to let them suffer. I would do so even if I were raising animals for meat. I know everyone is not like me though.

    • Ryan says:

      Actually logic should rule in cases like this.. Because most of the time, the emotional bullshit is worse for all parties, except the emotional ones involved. People with no clue think somethings pretty and lose all rational thought.

      • william huard says:

        It has nothing to do with something looking pretty. There are people that view horses as family pets- not just as an animal that has a function to serve human needs- and then when the animal gets old he is rewarded with the cannery! I can see very easily why Elk 275 doesn’t have a family pet like a dog or a cat. I’ll bet his horse doesn’t trust him either!

      • Elk275 says:


        I do not think you know much about horses! I have riden thousands of miles in my life Alaska, British Columbia, Montana and my favorite Mongoia. I’am not a good horseman but can handle a small pack string in the mountains.

        If the horse in not doing the job and presents some questionable safety issues; it needs to go to the canner. There are those who have too much emotion for there own good and the the practicality of the situation.

      • Ryan says:


        How many wild hog sanctuaries is there out there? How about burro or donkey sanctuaries or python sanctuaries? It has everything to do with cuteness and emotion. Sending a horse to the canner is no different than taking your dog for the last walk into the vet.

  19. Nancy says:

    Elk275 Says:
    October 14, 2010 at 10:13 PM

    Please learn something about the west. Visit it now. Stay while and listen. Save Bears wife has a home cooked meal waiting for you. I have a guest bedroom and we can go to the brew pub. You can stay in the Jackson Hotsprings Lodge and visit Nancy.

    Too funny Elk, but I’d love to spend some time with Jon if he’d come out for a visit!! Night Jon, night Elk, night SB.

  20. Angela says:

    I consider the wild horse question to be similar to the feral cat question. Whether or not I agree, there are people that feel so strongly about these animals that it’s not worth fighting any sort of black-and-white battle over it. All of us damage the environment in numerous ways every day, after all. I don’t really see anything wrong with setting aside a refuge for wild horses–they are part of our history and there are many other historical buildings and places we cherish for the same reason, whether it is practical or not. But I don’t much like the idea of their population growing. I would prefer to see native species myself, but I admit that seeing wild horses in remote parts of the Great Basin–on occasion–is sort of neat.

  21. bob jackson says:

    Madeline has the unique opportunity to show the govt and all those range science “specialists” how to do it. She can allow those horses to band up the way they did soon after they escaped from the Spanish. Then homes and territories will take over and there will then be lots of grass and little damage in riparian areas.

    This is how it was in America’s West in the time of the white buffalo hunters and the Plains painter Catlin. The buffalo hunters talked fondly of mixing up bison and wild horse herds and talking of the LUSH plains each occupied. Catlin painted the scene. It was the same in South America with herds of wild cattle and horses on the Pampas.

    It is not the animals fault it is mans for not recognizing how evolution allowed grazers and its environment such compatability.

    Madeline has the chance but I doubt she knows how to allow functional herds to form up….nor how to manage those horse herds so dysfunctionality and abusiveness within those herds individuals doesn’t raise its ugly head.

    Of course she is not alone. I doubt there is a biologist, agriculturalist, range scientist, hunter or rancher out there who could help her achieve functional horse herds. …Now if she seeks out the advice of indigenous hunter-gatherers …..and goes to human therapists who see human dysfunctionality all the time she might get some good advice.

    • Ryan says:

      “Now if she seeks out the advice of indigenous hunter-gatherers”


      Are any of them offering clinics, your protrayol of the prarie is nice, it has little bearing with the desert sitution these horses will be thrust into. There is not lush grass or water everywhere, and in the few places there is it will soon be eaten to the roots and the rapairian area will soon be big giant shit ponds. This country couldn’t support 10,000 deer much less 10K horses, even if they had disney like families.

      • bob jackson says:


        The accounts of wild horses I refer to are from the far SW part of bison range. Of course, what is desert now used to have waist high grass…whether its Big Bend National Park or the arid areas around Sedona. those dysfunctional cattle herds coming up from Texas took care of that.

        Then again those wild functional extended family wild cattle herds living in Texas for a hundred years, before domesticated cattle and humans replaced them, still allowed for those tall grasses of Big Bend.

        And as for hunter-gatherers giving clinics, why didn’t they? I’d say it is no diferent than why none of them world wide went out and tried to convert others (heathens) to their religon. Only if a group of people is dysfunctional is there a need to bring others into the “fold”.

      • bob jackson says:


        Riparian damage? Doesn’t happen with functional family groups. No family wants to hang around a mass used area…. such as arid area water holes. No control over the dependents is why. No different than a human family wanting to set up shop on a busy intersection or hall ways of a shopping center.

        Accounts tell of bison families trotting for three days to get to a waterhole…only to turn directly around and trot the same way back…to HOME.

        Didn’t you ever wonder why there weren’t all those silted in streams and gullies steam side pre white man? Now you know why.

        And don’t come back with accounts of bison trampling down big banks of earth on the Missouri River. Those huge herds were already dysfunctional. Why? The Indians, now horse back, made bison families into refuge populations looking no different in composition than Moses and his masses of people wandering for 40 years.

  22. Virginia says:

    Bob Jackson – the voice of reason!

  23. Dawn Rehill says:

    I do have strong feelings about the wild horse roundups, but I learned alot about this issue with your opinions and facts, thank you for that . I don’t know, you have science and question can the land handle the horses, but at the same time, to see something wild and not touched by man, damn that is nice to see in this era .

    • bob jackson says:


      Every species has the ability within its own kind, without predators, thank you maam, to control its own numbers. It is called homes and territories to protect. Homo …… is one of the best species to see this happen through millions of years of evolution. Thus those wild horses on Madelines ranch, if given the time to build on roles, home and territory turf can acheive something, ecological sustainability, no academic trained game biologist can come close to duplicating.

      The only “management” I see needed in short term (next 20 years) is taking away some of the family groups and leaving the rest to establish well defined roles and culture.

  24. Nancy says:

    More on Madeline Perkins and the sanctuary. The Bush, Oil and Wild Horses video is telling.

  25. Ryan says:


    I don’t know a lot about buffalo herds. I do know that horses fuck up the desert water holes and rapairian areas a level that even cows would be proud of. There may have been waist high grass pre cattle in some of these areas. There has most likely never been waist high grass on 99 percent of the area the proposed horse eco sanctuary should go.

    As for your theory that horses will stop their population growth based on family and territory size is a stretch. On a ranch I leased they let their horses go feral on the ranch about 25 years ago. It started with 5 or 6, we removed over 90 and didn’t get them all last year. The land couldn’t handle that amt of horses. I believe the only way they’d control their own population is by startvation.

    • bob jackson says:


      As I said in my earlier post for the first twenty years one would have to eliminate some of the embryonic families and thus allow other families to establish the level of roles needed to be effective in protecting their own turf.

      Think of a whole bunch of 5 year old kids being thrown in any alien environment and how many years it would take for order to assert itself.

      Or think of a slum environment where there has been some semblance of structure…but that structure is in the form of gangs. How long before it “works itself out”.

      Horses produce generations faster but one has to know going from no structure or from dysfunctional systems still .takes awhile.

      my comment on twenty years for Madeline was assuming those wild horses of hers had some background.

      As for any lands going “feral” I know of no instance where the locals didn’t exploit the resource…thus keeping that population dysfunctional. While I was trying to help UTAH State Range Science find a functional wild cattle herd ANYWHERE in the world it became obvious there isn’t any wild herd population of any originally domesticated species anywhere not being, as you say, f…ked with by “opportunists”.

      This I’d say was the same for your 90 head herd of horses.

      And as for water holes if there is more than one herd animal family using this common resource neither will stay there longer than needed. And if it is only one family in the area there is no need to muck it up.

      Turners ranch managers in New Mexico got ahold of me once to say their bison calves were dying from lack of water. The bison cows would come in to the watering tanks and then before the calves could drink would leave…with scared calves also leaving…. before drinking. My solution….either don’t wean so the older dependents stay with the young siblings after the mothers leave or put in a lot more water tanks….which of course they did the later.

      The point of relaying this is to say if this had been a water hole there would have been panic at the waters edge with these dysfunctional bison herds.

      Compare this with what sees in Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley…where stream banks are flush with grass and bison herds come and drink in an orderly fashion. I don’t see any difference in functional horse herds either. …And thanks for countering…or something like that.

  26. Ray says:

    Just a few comments. There is no way I can keep my bias out of this note. I live near and have been all over Ms. Picken’s proposed sanctuary. I have worked as a contractor for the ranches involved for 30 some years.

    One of the reasons this ranch sold was because of the high number of horses already populating the area, which left little room for cattle without furthur abuse of the forage.

    A rancher or the BLM can and will monitor feed and livestock numbers to maintain the health of the forage but politics (lawsuits against the BLM) make it difficult to do the same with horses.

    The Pickens link above does not offer a balanced picture of the area. Along with the gorgous mountain range the are many more acres of salt flat, greasewood, and low shrubs… sage. Snow crowds livestock and wildlife into the valleys during the winter.

    There is very limited water on this place, most of it is pumped, several springs are seasonal, the feed around dependable springs is mowed to the ground for miles.

    Horses will be breeding outside of this sanctuary, I cannot see how moving horses here will alter that fact or solve overpopulation of horses on public lands. Its a feel good gesture that solves nothing.

    The father of a 80 y/o old guy in town raised remounts for the US Cavalry in Mcgill, Nevada. (40 miles south of this area) Bob assures me he can still see his dads horses (colors) in the herd he turned loose once the US stopped buying in 1937.

    For nearly a century this ranch like all user paid for the use of our natural rescourses sent a check to the BLM. Do we as taxpayers really want to reverse that policy and send Pickens 5 million a year to harbor estray animals?

    • Victoria Bond says:

      The heritage of Nevada is open range and wildlife. Fences restrict wildlife from trekking from one range to another, from the Rubies, to the Pequops, woods and Humboldts and fences contain horses that are currently running free in Nevada.
      The proposed area has high snow and little water. Food will be an issue for these horses. As a nearby land owner, and a non rancher, I am open to anyone doing what they want on their own land but am not open to allowing public lands to be fenced. I don’t understand how an exception can be granted. I am concerned about the elk, the deer and other native wildlife. I believe that the native wildlife should not be restricted from their migratory paths—I care about the elk, the deer and the coyotes.

  27. Victoria Bond says:

    Also Spruce Mountain, part of the proposed sanctuary is a National Historic treasure with amazing buildings and smeltes intact that shouldn’t be destroyed by the wild horses. These relics should be treasured and made available to the public.


October 2010


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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