New Mexico wild horse & chimp refuge plans falter
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November/December 2010:
ALBUQUERQUE–New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson scrambled as his
term ended to save his September 2010 initiatives to create
sanctuaries for wild horses and chimpanzees.
Richardson on September 17, 2010 announced a plan to use
$2.9 million in federal economic stimulus money to add the former
Ortiz Mountain Ranch to Cerrillos Hills State Park, 20 miles south
of Santa Fe, turning it into the largest wild horse sanctuary in the
“The acquisition needs the approval of the state Board of
Finance,” explained Albuquerque Journal staff writer Thomas J. Cole.
“A board vote was postponed on November 16 for the third time. The
board is to meet only one other time–on December 21–before
Richardson leaves office. If the ranch purchase is approved on
December 21, that would leave only a few working days to close the
deal before Governor-elect Susana Martinez takes office on January 1,
2011. Martinez has said the ranch acquisition would be ‘inexcusable’
given the tough economic times. Even if the Richardson
administration is able to purchase the land before year’s end,
Martinez could use her authority to thwart development of the horse
The Richardson plan was further jeopardized when the U.S.
Bureau of Land Management estimated that the ranch has carrying
capacity for only 20 to 30 horses to live in a fully wild state. The
BLM is presently holding about 25,000 horses who have been removed
from public lands.
Richardson on November 18, 2010 complained to the USDA Animal
& Plant Health Inspection Service that the National Institutes of
Health will be violating the federal Animal Welfare Act if 186 chimps
are moved from the Alamogordo Primate Facility near Albuquerque to
the Southwest National Primate Research Center in San Antonio. The
chimps, formerly used in biomedical research but now all
unofficially “retired” for about 10 years, are due to be relocated
by the NIH when a contract for their care with Charles River
Laboratories expires at the end of 2010.
A clause of the Animal Wel-fare Act states that “If a nonhuman
primate is obviously ill, injured or in physical distress, it must
not be transported in commerce, except to receive veterinary care
for the condition.”
Richardson contends that the soon-to-be-closed Alamogordo
Primate Facility should become a chimp retirement sanctuary.