Billionaire wife embroiled in wild horse debate

There's a battle brewing out West: It's a confrontation between cattle ranchers and the wife of billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, Madeleine Pickens, over wild horses, wild mustangs to be specific.

The ranchers in Northern Nevada say their livelihood is at risk because there are too many wild horses grazing on federal lands, while animal advocates like Madeleine Pickens believe the population, which number in the tens of thousands, is manageable, special correspondent Jeff Glor reported on "CBS This Morning."

In the past year, Pickens has spent between $12 and $13 million trying to establish a "Wild Horse Eco-Sanctuary," which she says is needed to save America's mustangs.

Money might not be an object for Madeleine Pickens, but it is for the neighbors. That's because Pickens wants to use more than 500,000 acres of federal land for her horse refuge -- land that is currently used to graze cattle. Cattle ranchers say there won't be enough land -- or food -- for both groups.

Madeleine Pickens says the ranchers have "grown up hating the horse." She said, "The group that's opposing us -- they don't like the horse."

But cattle rancher and Elko County Commission Chairman Demar Dahl told Glor he likes horses and likes having them on his ranch -- just not too many of them.

Pickens' idea, he said, is not a solution to the overpopulation of horses. Dahl said Nevada authorities need to have "an adult conversation" about the reality of the situation. Prior to the 1971 Wild Horse Act, horses were rounded up and often sold for slaughter.

This story is especially relevant, Glor said, because in November Washington passed a bill that re-legalized horse slaughter in this country, something that was effectively banned in 2005. While horse slaughter is not being practiced at the moment in the U.S. because there is no funding in place to inspect the processing plants, it is one of Madeleine Pickens' fears that the slaughter could re-start any day.

To watch the full story and to follow the discussion on possible population solutions with Glor, Gayle King, Erica Hill and Charlie Rose, check out the video in the player above.

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