In Memoriam of Dr. Jay F. Kirkpatrick

"The focus of Wild Love Preserve's wild horse project in bringing all stakeholders together to work collaboratively with the Challis and Idaho BLM, is unique and imaginative and potentially opens the door to an entirely new paradigm for managing western wild horses. This model may change a great deal and we here at The Science and Conservation Center are excited about partnering with WLP in this effort."  - Jay F. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D, The Science and Conservation Center, August 2013

Jay and his pals on "bring your dogs to work day" at The Science and Conservation Center

Jay and his pals on "bring your dogs to work day" at The Science and Conservation Center

On Wednesday, December 16, 2015 at 5pm, Dr. Jay F. Kirkpatrick of The Science and Conservation Center traveled on. He did not want anyone to know he was sick. He didn’t want anyone to fuss, to feel bad, or to focus on his condition. He didn’t want tears or final goodbyes. Instead, he remained steadfast in his life's work to the very end of his journey on this earth plane. His resolve never wavered, his truth ran clear and deep. He loved animals and the environment, was a true humanitarian and was fierce when it came to accountability and humane solutions to man-made wildlife issues. He was a man of great intelligence, compassion, action, integrity, patience and extreme perseverance. His immense heart, kindness and desire to share his knowledge through his work, teaching and collaborations, span worldwide. His legacy is, and will remain, far-reaching and ever-lasting.

I first contacted Jay in 2011 when I was hard at work on a new and collaborative approach to wild horse management in effort to curtail the 2012 Challis BLM Helicopter Roundup. I reached out to introduce myself and Wild Love Preserve, and to learn more about his work and Native PZP-1YR. From the onset Jay welcomed me, wanted to know more, was supportive, communicative and immediately recognized the difference in what I was creating with Wild Love Preserve. I learned he held a special place in his heart for the Challis Herd because his field work had initiated with Challis stallions in the 1970’s, and our work together brought him full circle. Our communications continued and in 2012, I and three other WLP volunteers, trained at The Science an Conservation Center (SCC) in Billings, MT, thanks to grants from ASPCA and the Vitalogy Foundation.

At his suggestion I and WLP, also attended the 7th International Conference on Wildlife Fertility Control in Jackson, Wyoming in 2012.  When I had called to tell him I wanted to be there, but funding was a problem, he responded in classic Jay fashion, “I will understand Andrea, but I will be very disappointed if you don’t make it.” Thanks to a grant from the Vitalogy Foundation, WLP was able to attend, and as Jay promised, many nice and beneficial connections were made, which I am appreciative of to this day.

WLP's relation with SCC has been shaped by mutual interest in native wild horse preservation and human accountability. In April 2013, Jay called me with a proposal for WLP... 'If I would find interest in his legacy of knowledge for our education element, he would like to develop the program'. I was awed and had to pinch myself. Subsequently, as WLP Education Development Director, Dr. Kirkpatrick, a scientist out front in the field and lab for 45 years, shares his unique wealth of wild horse knowledge and expertise by designing WLP’s educational curriculum. We are honored and grateful for this special gift.

I already miss our phone conversations, his energy, support and enthusiasm. I also miss his deep, hearty, laugh which always came about at some point in every conversation. He seemed to find it especially amusing when I told him turning in WLP paperwork on the Challis Herd felt like going to the principal’s office, butterflies until all checked okay. It is no surprise that Jay made sure all transitions with SCC will be seamless and his work will carry on. WLP and our education program will carry forward as well, thanks to Jay.

Jay F. Kirkpatrick, Ph.D., Director of The Science and Conservation Center in Billings, MT, held a Ph.D. in reproductive physiology from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Dr. Kirkpatrick carried out innovative research in humane wildlife contraception for over four and a half decades.

His initial field work began with wild stallions on the Challis Herd Management Area in the early 1970's. This scientific study organically evolved into his development of Native PZP-1YR, a biodegradable, non-hormonal, protein-based fertility vaccine for mares, produced at The Science and Conservation Center (SCC) which he created in 1998 as an independent non-profit organization. Native PZP-1YR has since proven safe, successful, humane in application, effective and reversible if desired, for over 25 years with ongoing scientific results to support the work of he and his colleagues. Successes with native wild horses, such as the famous Assateague Island Wild Ponies, extended to wildlife species around the world, including wild bison, African elephants, whitetailed deer, and over 80 species of zoo animals worldwide.

Dr. Kirkpatrick published over 100 scientific papers in wildlife contraception and related fields. SCC successes are notable and documented in a large number of published scientific papers, as they have managed to eliminate lethal control of many wildlife populations through their innovative work. SCC has received a number of awards for their work on behalf of wildlife, including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Kruger National Park in South Africa, among others.

Dr. Jay F. Kirkpatrick received world-wide acclaim for his work with wild horses, most notably the famous Assateague Island Wild Ponies and served as consultant for numerous zoos, and as member of the Biological and Physical Science Department at Montana State University, Billings, held title of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, from 1976 to 1978, and again from 1981-84.

In honor and memory of a treasured, beloved and highly respected individual, mentor and friend, who has now traveled on.

When at the end of life, we take our last breath, this is not the end. 

Jay, you began your work in the 1970's with the Challis wild horses, championed wild horse preservation, blazed a trail like no other, and leave behind a lasting legacy to be carried on. You are forever recognized, remembered and appreciated beyond measure.

We will miss you terribly, but feel your presence already at work. Shine on, and we will see you on the wild side. 

Simply stated, we will love you always.  xox


- Andrea Maki, Founder, Wild Love Preserve