Monday, December 19, 2011

Wild Horses: Preservation program flies out of control - video

Buck, Bald and Butte mountains vie for majesty here in northeastern Nevada, where wagon trains made perilous journeys during the 1800s gold rush that built the West. Wagon wheel ruts mark the valleys still, permanent scars in a harsh land of survivors. It is here where man and beast remain at war. It is here where ranchers who gave the cow counties their nickname compete for scarce resources with America's last wild horses. It is here where the mustangs are legally protected as "living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the West." And it is here where, 40 years after a 1971 law put the Bureau of Land Management in charge of preserving those wild horses, the program is as out of control as the untamed animals themselves. Like a devalued foreclosed home, the program is upside down: The BLM is holding more wild horses -- 41,000, mostly in Midwestern pastures -- than are roaming 10 Western states -- about 33,000. And the cost to taxpayers is soaring as the BLM expands its welfare agency for aging wild horses. More than half of its entire 2012 wild horse and burro budget is for holding costs alone -- $43.2 million of $75.8 million. And this year's total budget is nearly double just two years ago. Overall, the BLM has spent at least three-quarters of a billion dollars to manage wild horses and burros in the past 40 years. During that time, the agency has rounded up at least 260,000 animals in an attempt to control where mustangs roam and contend with a runaway reproduction rate that has herds doubling every four to five years...more

Here is the Las Vegas Review Journal's video report:

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