People Magazine: Willie Nelson & Sheryl Crow Cry out for Wild Horses – Excellent Article

Today’s article!

Willie Nelson wants to know: “Why are there more horses asses than there are horses?”

The country legend’s gripe comes from his concern for the American West’s wild horses and burros, which are being rounded up by the thousands and placed into holding corrals by the federal government’s Bureau of Land Management. The capture of 2,500 horses started in the Calico Mountains of Nevada last month, but the agency expects to round up a total of 12,000 of the estimated 37,000 horses on BLM land by the end of this year.

Nelson, who himself owns 68 horses (30 of which were rescued and prevented from slaughter) isn’t the only celebrity speaking in defense of the animals. Nelson’s daughter Amy, singer Sheryl Crow, actors Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris, as well as former Playboy models Shane and Sia Barbi, have all signed letters to Congress and the President pleading for the horses’ cause.

Amy Nelson, who grew up with horses, finds last month’s Calico Mountain roundup especially cruel. “The fact that they’re rounding them up in the dead of winter, it’s really the worst time —not that there’s ever a good time,” Nelson tells “The horses are in captivity, and they’re freezing out there. They need to run around in order to stay warm — it just doesn’t make any sense.”

BLM spokesman Tom Gorey says the roundups are needed because the horses, which roam across BLM land in Nevada, Utah and Colorado, have essentially become overpopulated, and that larger numbers will be detrimental to the land and its resources.

“The land is shared by wildlife, and we’re trying to get the number of wild horses and burros down to an appropriate management level,” Gorey tells “Our overall objective is to ensure that there’s healthy range lands for multiple uses, including oil and gas development, and outdoor recreation.”

Gorey says the agency and its director, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, are hoping to get to a place where the horses will eventually be adopted out. The costs of keeping the animals in corrals, which are near capacity, keep mounting; 70 percent of the agency’s $40.6 million budget goes toward holding costs. But the market for adopting wild horses is declining.

“Adopting a wild horse — you can’t even get them in the trailer,” Nelson says. “People would be adopting a highly traumatized animal that’s huge. There’s no market for people to adopt them unless they’re a really kind millionaire, but there’s not a lot of those anymore, either.”

Critics suggest that the idea of multiple-use land is what’s driving the BLM roundup — in other words, larger interests are at stake. Ginger Kathrens of The Cloud Foundation, which works to prevent the extinction of wild horse herds, believes that the BLM is clearing horses off public land to make way for the Ruby Pipeline, a natural gas project that will operate through the Rocky Mountains.

Chris Heyde of the Animal Welfare Institute, which lobbies against animal cruelty, points to large livestock grazing operations and cattle ranchers that have sway with the government. Though he is on the front lines of lobbying and activism himself, Heyde feels that he might be fighting a losing battle.

Kathrens disagrees. The Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, whose documentary about a mustang named Cloud drew attention to the horses, and who first brought friend Sheryl Crow’s attention to the issue, says there’s still time to save many of the remaining horses, as long as there’s enough public outcry.

“The bottom line is that this agency has got to come clean,” Kathrens says. “They have to be made accountable at Congressional hearings. I think we’re just being hoodwinked and losing something so precious and spectacular.”

Helin Jung,


12 Responses to “People Magazine: Willie Nelson & Sheryl Crow Cry out for Wild Horses – Excellent Article”



  2. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    That is an unusual article. Mostly good but for old Tom Gorey in there lying about overpopulation. I do not believe there are 37,000 wild horses in the wild ANY MORE.

    I am glad they had a couple photos… mar

  3. Ronnie Says:

    Good article, I agree. Thank you Willie for saying it like it is.

    And finally, Tom Gorey of the BLM, INCLUDES
    “…healthy range lands for multiple uses, including *oil and *gas development…”
    This is the first I heard of “oil and gas” re wild horses. Is the BLM slowly easing into coming out with the truth: Ruby Pipeline? If so, at least we will know “what,” “where,” “WHO” we are dealing with and then “HOW” to: regroup, recoup, restrategize.

    What’s with Chris Heyde (AWI) stating the power cattle ranchers have in DC and “he might be facing a losing battle.” NO WAY!

    GO GINGER!! Ginger Kathrens’ follow-up to Mr. Heyde’s statement>>>she calls for continuing public outcry, accountability, Congressional hearings! Yes!! Moratorium!

    Never stop fighting for the wild horses. Grassroots efforts have won over and over up against the corrupt, greedy, “Powers.” We need to keep up the pressure, the rallies, the emais/letters/calls/visits to our legislators. It-IS-working!

    If we ever, ever stop the advocacy, the fight for the wild horses and burros, it will be all over for EVERY horse in the USA. Slaughter!

    And when you look back over the years at how pro-slaughter almost “won,” they dId NOT because they were CONTINUOUSLY countered by ANTI-HORSE SLAUGHTER! It was not easy, but we, all together with powerful animal welfare organizations, shut down all the slaughter houses in the US. And the last, Cavel slaughter house in DeKalb, Illinois fought like hell, over and over, to reopen. They remain closed because of the people, grassroots! And other states have been defeated from trying to open slaughter houses this past year! Remember Montana?

    Hey, I imagine many of us feel despair as the BLM keeps upping the ante. But we always recharge and continue the battle. FOR THE HORSES.


    We are on a huge, powerful roll now. Unprecedented. We will not stop. For the wild horses and a law to end the slaughter of our American horses.

    Thank you Mr. Chris Heyde for lighting my fire!

    • Laura Evans Says:

      I saw an interesting note about a movement in Canada to ban horse slaughter there and prevent their horses from being shipped out of the country for that purpose.

  4. Janet Ferguson Says:

    *******Willie Nelson wants to know: “Why are there more horses asses than there are horses?”*********


    • Janet Ferguson Says:

      Don’t forget Obama’s under the spotlight in so many ways — he doesn’t need bad press — or shall I say, any MORE bad press than his administration is already suffering!!!!

      Has anyone else heard about a press conference in Nevada tomorrow with BLM and advocates?? Called by BLM?

      • Marilyn Wargo Says:

        Janet, it got pushed to another page as there have been some long posts recently. Mar

        BLM Calico Press Day
        January 11, 2010 by thecloudfoundation
        BLM Press Day for Calico
        The event will start at 8AM on January 16th.

        Bruno’s Country Club and Motel
        445 Main
        Gerlach, Nevada 89412 775-557-2220

        1.5 hours north of Reno.

        Rooms price from

        smaller 49.00- 77.00 Ask for Mark

        please let John know if you will be there:

        Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

      • Janet Ferguson Says:

        Thanks MW — hope we hear something soon about what transpired there

  5. Marilyn Wargo Says:

    Don’t you wonder if they will attempt to be ‘transparent’ about the Ruby Pipeline now that we all know about it? mar

  6. Michael J Ahles Says:

    It aint about a pipe lines, its simply beef.
    If you want to help preserve freedom, boycott beef.


  7. Karen L. Says:

    Both Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow are actually horse owners, so it’s difficult for the “opposition” to clamor about activitists and celebrities who speak out without real knowledge of the horses. Willie Nelson’s question is spot on!

  8. Editor Says:

    A great read, including myriad opinions about the wild-horse issue:

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