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In 2004, most Americans and members of Congress were unaware that then-Senator Conrad Burns (MT-R) had attached an amendment, now known as the Burns Amendment, to a 3,000-page spending bill that stripped away over 34 years of protection for America's precious Wild Horse and Burro herds. Since then, Mustangs and Burros have been sold for commercial purposes, including slaughter. Legislation had been introduced to reinstate their protection, only to be blocked by the same special interest groups that want to keep horse slaughter legal. In February 2009, Rep. Nick Rayhall (D-WV) introduced H.R.1018, the ROAM Act, in the House of Representatives to restore their protection by amending the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act. As of now (April, 2009), there is no related bill introduced in the Senate. Rep. Rayhall has been trying to overturn the Burns Amendment since 2005.
Back in 1969, author Hope Ryden wrote America's Last Wild Horses, one of the best and most comprehensive books on the history and plight of America's wild free-roaming horses and burros. Her prophetic title was steadily and tragically becoming a reality.
The truth is that there is no Wild Horse over-population problem.
There is, however, a Wild Greed and Avarice problem.
Today, there are over 4.2 million cattle on our public lands, but only an estimated 30,000 Wild Horses left. The enormous public lands comprise areas larger than the size of France. It is untrue to say that there is not enough room for the horses to live out their natural lives in their natural habitat. The cattle have decimated the land while horses have always been part of the natural balance. While cows chew cud and put nothing back into the land, the horses spread seeds from their mouths and manure that keep the land environmentally sound. However, unless drastic steps are taken, these noble creatures will be destroyed in the name of greed. This is all about AUM's, Animal Units per Month. For every Wild Horse that is removed from the public lands, a cow and calf can replace that one horse. That is ultimately what the ranchers and cattlemen want.
Mustang Madeleine Comes to the Rescue
Madeleine Pickens and her husband, T. Boone Pickens, were honored in 2007 by Equine Advocates for their work to end horse slaughter.
Today, thousands of Wild Horses are in government pens and feedlots. In 2008, the BLM announced plans to kill 30,000 it had captured on the range. Back in 1959, it was the courageous Velma Johnston, better known as Wild Horse Annie, who first inspired passage of legislation to preserve and protect America's Wild Mustangs and Burros. Today it is Mustang Madeleine, Madeleine Pickens that is, who has come up with a plan that could potentially be the answer to permanently protecting and preserving these noble animals. However, that can happen only if the US government agrees to cooperate and work with her.
Madeleine Pickens is a long-time horse owner and wife of Texas oilman and philanthropist, T. Boone Pickens (creator of The Pickens Plan). In 2008, she unveiled a proposal to adopt all 30,000 captive horses, purchase one million acres of land out west and establish a Wild Horse Sanctuary where these animals could live out their lives free and protected. On March 3, 2009, Madeleine testified before a House Subcommittee in favor of the ROAM Act and detailed her proposal for the Wild Horses and her sanctuary. In what can only be described as mystifying, the BLM rejected her innovative and promising plan rather than give up control of the herds. This is a set-back, as Madeleine is the only person thus far to have come up with a realistic program to deal with these horses and all horses removed from the range every year.
Wild Horses and Burros deserve to be protected. They are part of America's heritage. To capture a Wild Horse is to strip away the spirit and dignity of this proud and noble creature. To watch wild horses being run into a sales ring at a slaughter auction is to watch an atrocity which is so sad that it defies description. The majority of Americans want these animals preserved and protected. They can be managed in the wild and they can be moved to a sanctuary where people from around the world can have the privilege of seeing them in their natural habitat. However, to begin that process, the Burns Amendment must be repealed with the passage of the ROAM Act.
Additional information: How to take action