As we observe July 4, we recognize a key figure in our history. The iconic wild mustang is pure Americana, symbolizing unbridled freedom, power, determination, and the Wild West. Our wildness resonates deep within and is essential to our whole, we would be amiss without it. Project Wild Love Preserve's preservation of this American icon speaks to our greater good and collective well-being by way of bridging divides and bringing stakeholders together in a new light.
Located in Central Idaho, the Challis Herd Management Area (HMA) is home to numerous bands of the Challis Wild Horse Herd. This unique expanse of multi-use public land encompasses 154,150 acres of high desert wilderness rich in native wildlife and habitat, outdoor recreation and connection, as well as grazing allotments for livestock. While there exists a mixed array of wild horse bloodlines and regional history, our universal evolution reveals that the North American continent is the original birthplace of equus, making wild horses a native species. Most notable being the Hagerman Horse of Idaho.
The Hagerman Horse is a North American species of equid from the Pliocene and Pleistocene periods, first appearing 3.5 million years ago. Hagerman fossils, discovered in 1928 by an Idaho rancher, represent the oldest widely-accepted remains of the genus Equus and are proudly recognized as the State Fossil of Idaho. Prior to the extinction of North American horses 10,000 years ago, many wild horses had drifted across the Bering Land Bridge to Eurasia, proving advantageous for man. The horse’s return to indigenous soil came with European explorers by sea. The horse has been instrumental in humankind’s survival and development. We owe great respect, gratitude and debt to Horse.
Founded in 2010 by contemporary visual artist Andrea Maki, Wild Love Preserve (WLP) engages public and private lands to address all facets of regional wild horse conservation on home turf in Central Idaho; from collaborative work on the range to adopting/purchasing Challis, Idaho wild horses permanently removed from public lands by the Bureau of Land Management to remain together on WLP wild expanse in the region. Currently there are approximately 200 wild horses on the Challis HMA, while WLP has 130. Since 2013, WLP programs have saved American taxpayers $3.5 million dollars, and greatly benefitted local economy. Non-profit WLP is supported by private grants and donations.
Viewed as a paradigm project, the mission of Wild Love Preserve is to protect and preserve native wild horses in their native environments and nurture the legacy of respective indigenous ecosystems as an interconnected whole, in a collaborative, responsible and sustainable manner with regional engagement and benefit. Kindness, mutual respect, science and education are paramount. By design, collaborative conservation efforts offer a viable option to BLM helicopter roundups, integrate total range health, collective harmony and co-existence with native wildlife, livestock where applicable, and all stakeholders. We invite you to learn more and thank you for your consideration in joining with us, your contribution has immediate and lasting impact in the work that we do on behalf of this American Icon.
See story as published in The Dodo: Celebrating Our Wild American Heritage on July 4