Animals & Money: Fight over the money to save half our wild horses

The hopes for creating the world's largest wild horse sanctuary have dwindled in the last month. Last fall, Madeleine Pickens, wife of oilman T. Boone Pickens, proposed buying or leasing a million acres of land out West to save the 30,000 some wild horses that the Bureau of Land Management is keeping in holding pens. Now the BLM is claiming the plan won't work because of issues of money and location. "We tried to thank her politely," Ron Wenkler, the BLM's director for Nevada obnoxiously said.

In case you haven't checked into the mess that is our country's wild horse conservation program, here's the backstory: We used to have about 2 million wild horses but that dwindled as we took their land. Wild horses starved, were shot by ranchers or rounded up and sold for dog meat -- until the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act of 1971.

The BLM originally estimated we had 17,000 horses left, but were wildly off. We had 42,000. We originally gave horses 54 million acres, but cut that down to 35 million. The BLM continually cuts the population it wants to mis-manage on the range. Right now it has 33,000 roaming, but it wants to cut that to 27,000. The agency had less than 10,000 in holding in 2001; now it's triple that. Each year it rounds up mustangs and tries to sell them at auction to people who at least promise to take good care of them.