Animals & Money: How much to save our wild horses?

Madeleine and T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire couple who swooped in to New Orleans with a rented jet and saved hundreds of dogs and cats after Hurricane Katrina, announced this week they plan on saving 35,000 wild horses from potential slaughter by creating a new home for them.

The horses -- representing about half the current population of the west's wild horses -- are in danger because the Bureau of Land Management, which manages (or mismanages, depending on who tells the story) wanted to eliminate them. The BLM manages 33,100 horses in 199 herds in 10 states.

The BLM also wants to cut the wild herd to 27,000 -- that's down about 18% from its current level and about 1% of its population of about 2 million in the 19th Century. Plus, they have another 30,000 in custody -- up from 9,800 in 2001. Critics say there's no reason for the reduction and no proof the horses are hurting the land.