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Western Housing Collapse Causing Wild House Population to Boom

The Western US has found a new wrinkle in the housing collapse, where homeowners are desperately struggling to cut living costs to meet the next doubling of their adjustable rate mortgage payments on their underwater houses. Raising horses can cost more than children, so Nevadans are turning them loose to join herds of wild mustangs, to dodge the $30,000/year it costs to board and care for them. Local populations are exploding, eating local ranchers out of house and home, who depend on public grazing lands to feed commercial livestock. Mustangs are the feral descendents of horses which escaped the conquistadores, and there are now thought to be 30,000 out there, down from a 19th century peak of 2 million. The Bureau of Land Management has another 30,000 in pens, and is making 10,000/year available for adoption at $125/each. The problem is that many adopt “pets” who then flip them to Canadian slaughterhouses, which cater to the odd French taste for horseflesh. To see how this works, watch Clark Gable’s last film, The Misfits. Madeleine Pickens, the wife of famed oil trader Boone Pickens, has offered to take the BLM’s entire herd and put them out to pasture at an undisclosed million acre location. If there is anyone who could have an undisclosed million acres, it is Boone. I have frequently run into majestic and beautiful mustang herds over the years while camping in the remote desert (no, I don’t go to Burning Man). Reminding me that there is still some “wild” in the “West”, I will miss them if they are gone.