“Wild Horse Andrea” walks the walk for Idaho’s Challis mustangs

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After making a commitment to help some Challis wild horses in April 2010, Andrea Maki has quietly made countless road trips over the past six years, driving back and forth between her home in Seattle and the Central Idaho High Desert to the Challis Wild Horses. 

Listen Here: Wild Love Preserve Founder, Andrea Maki, interviewed by Beth Markley on Elemental Idaho on Radio Boise.

A 14-hour drive one-way, and at her expense, because, she says, “this really matters, and I believe in integrity and follow through”.

Andrea Maki’s commitment to wild horse preservation and collective change has been unwavering. While outcomes have not been everything she has strived for, it is a work in progress and the results have brought great benefit and safety to the Challis wild horses in Idaho. Between 2010 and 2012, Maki worked to curtail the Idaho BLM’s (Bureau of Land Management) October 2012 helicopter roundup and removals of Idaho wild horses on the Challis Herd Management Area (HMA). Her approach has been multi-faceted, with a goal of uniting stakeholders to share public lands and implement a new means of collaborative population management that is both humane and cost-effective.


While she did not fully succeed at stopping the 2012 helicopter roundup, she was present for the events and the Idaho BLM kept their word by leaving two specific bands of Challis wild horses untouched, to instead be part of a new WLP/BLM pilot program. In addition, her non-profit, Wild Love Preserve, adopted all the removed Challis wild horses the BLM made available, so not one Idaho wild horse was shipped out of state to long-term holding at taxpayer expense, but instead, through private funding, have remained together and wild. This is the second largest adoption in BLM history, but the first of its kind in intent.

Maki has taken a proactive approach in maintaining Challis Herd population numbers following the 2012 Challis BLM Roundup. Efforts include working with stakeholders and the Idaho BLM to remotely dart wild mares with Native PZP-1YR in the field as developed by Dr. Jay F. Kirkpatrick. In 2012, thanks to grants in part from the ASPCA, five Wild Love Preserve volunteers attended training and received required certification at the Science and Conservation Center in Billings, Montana.

In 2014 the WLP/BLM pilot Native PZP-1YR fertility control program began with five wild Challis mares on the Challis HMA. Efforts expanded to dart 35 wild Challis mares in 2015, and in 2016 the entire Challis Herd.

There are about 225 wild horses in the Challis Herd and the goal is to treat wild Challis mares annually. Wild Love Preserve’s objective is to humanely manage and maintain population and herd viability in a sustainable manner, removing the need for future BLM helicopter roundups and removals in the region. Wild Love Preserve’s conservation efforts speak to total range health, and require wild horse monitoring in conjunction with all wildlife species and private livestock where applicable. Research, documentation and transparency are essential for ecological balance of the whole and nurturing a lasting legacy in wildness.

In 2010 Maki founded Wild Love Preserve, and she has been bringing stakeholders together to develop new working solutions to benefit wild horses. Wild Love Preserve addresses all facets of regional wild horse conservation in central Idaho, from the 130 Challis, Idaho wild horses rescued from the 2012 Challis Helicopter Roundup, to its work on the range and creation of a protected wild expanse in the heart of Idaho wild horse country.

Since 2010, 100% of Maki’s life, talents and resources have been dedicated to Wild Love Preserve and the lasting protections of wild places. She has fundraised for six years, but full-project funding has continued to fall short. Maki has used her personal resources and loans to the tune of a $650,000 debt to cover WLP wild horse program expenditures, which has saved US taxpayers $7.5 million since 2013.

Wild horsesMaki has walked the walk and created a two-part model in wild horse preservation in Idaho.

“Too many people are of a moment, then they are off to the next and assume someone else will take care of it. Hypothetical discussions don’t result in change,” she says. “Change only happens with action.”

No matter the challenge, Maki has stayed the course to create a new model in wild horse conservation that engages all stakeholders, nurtures respective indigenous ecosystems as an interconnected whole, and benefits the community.


2 thoughts on ““Wild Horse Andrea” walks the walk for Idaho’s Challis mustangs

  • May 8, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    The NAS study found no evidence of an over-population so why is there any need for birth control. After five doses of PZP or less in some cases mares will be sterile. This will destroy the natural selection and the genetic viability. NAS also found the removals cause the mares to breed more. Cattle and sheep need to be removed from the HMA’s and our wild horses left alone. They are symbiotic to ecosystems and the AML’s need to be increased. 70% of the herds are not genetically viable . BLM must stop ” managing for extinction”.

  • May 10, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    It’s unrealistic to think we won’t ruin the ecosystem even further if there is no management of herd size. We have to be realistic. We steralize dogs, cats, and every other herd animal BECAUSE, humans have already disrupted the natural balance of life. Horses suffer if their herds get too large. I couldn’t agree more that the cattle and sheep have been allowed to move our herds out and that fight is with the cattle ranchers and the BLM themselves who are owned by the cattle industry.


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