By Jennifer Loren, News On 6
UNDATED -- For the last few years the federal government has been struggling with the same crisis. The Bureau of Land Management is charged with taking care of the country's wild horse population.
Recently they were facing the possibility of euthanizing thousands of wild mustangs to stay within their budget.
The News On 6 found their problems may be solved, thanks to the generosity of one person.
The American mustang is a free spirit, an untamed horse, living its life in the wild, mostly untouched by humans.
In Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, government employees run a holding facility where some of the wild mustangs have been sorted out for adoption.
"Well there's kind of an image that people have of the mustang as a wild untamable creature. But they really aren't that. They aren't that at all," said Paul McGuire of BLM Wild Horse & Burro Program.
For decades the BLM has relied on the general public to help control the mustang population through adoption. But when the horse market came to a screeching halt so too did their adoptions.
Now 30,000 of their adoptable horses have piled up in holding facilities across the country.
"That's not sustainable. We can't continue down that road. So we need solutions that will enable us to maintain the resource in the wild, on the public range, and do so in a sustainable manner," said McGuire.
That's when officials began looking at the last resort, mass euthanizations. Doing so would free-up their budget so they could focus on their main objective, managing the overpopulated wild herds on the range.
"And that's what leads BLM to the situation, the very unenviable situation, of having to look at some of these options for dealing with excess horses that frankly nobody would find attractive," said McGuire.
And just when they were about to pull the trigger, Madeleine Pickens, the wife of Oklahoma billionaire T. Boone Pickens, stepped forward. She said she'd adopt all 30,000 horses slated for death or being held in the BLM's holding facilities.
Pickens plans to buy one million acres and create a refuge for the horses. She says she'll have them sterilized when they come in and plans to continue taking them in every year the BLM needs her to.
Pickens says she is relieved. She's told the associated press, "I feel like the wagon is surrounded and instead of being surrounded by evil, it's surrounded by people who are willing to help."
And BLM officials say they couldn't be more pleased.
The News On 6 spoke with Madeleine Pickens Tuesday night. She says they are still in the early planning stages, but she'd also love to be able to create an eco-vacation spot where people could see the mustangs in their natural surroundings.
She says she won't say no to any horse that needs a home.
11/17/2008 - Horse Dumping: Oklahoma's Disturbing Trend