Challis-Idaho Wild Horses Find Freedom

Challis-Idaho Wild Horses Find Freedom

The Challis-Idaho wild horses from Idaho’s Challis 2019 roundup have finally made it to their new home at Wild Love Preserve (WLP) in central Idaho. The trailer doors opened on July 22 and 23, and the new arrivals joined the 136 Challis wild horses from the 2012 roundup who are already with the preserve. What an amazing sight to see those horses gallop off into freedom. It’s so nice to see something hopeful happening in the world.

Wild Love Preserve’s creation of a permanently protected wildlife preserve in their native habitat allows Idaho wild horses removed from public lands to remain wild and together, to be who they are on their terms, establishing family bands, relationships, and instinctual dynamics. WLP’s mission is to take in horses who have not been adopted from the BLM roundups. They will not be adopted out again, or gentled; they will have a life of freedom in the wilderness at no cost to US taxpayers.

Preserve founder, Andrea Maki, an artist from the state of Washington, is achieving what many people believed to be impossible. She has gotten the Bureau of Land Management, the community of Challis and Custer County, the area cattle ranchers and environmentalists to work together with WLP. If this model for mustang management works, it could save the wild mustangs, the environment they live in and bring new money to the tiny town of Challis…. and finally be a solution for wild horse management across the West. Maki is still fundraising to acquire a permanent home for the WLP’s current 136 Challis-Idaho wild horses, and future Idaho wild horses. The Covid-19 pandemic forced the organization to move to “plan B”; the horses are currently living on 400 leased acres.

“We are raising vital funds to address modified logistics, operations and our new family members,” Maki says. “Once we finally have our permanent location acquired, we will be able to move our operations and 160-plus Challis-Idaho wild horses.”

Wild Love Preserve has pioneered an innovative model in wild horse conservation which has garnered national attention and is serving as a framework for other western states. With its programs, it has demonstrated that coexistence, humane treatment and sustainable management, protecting wild lives and indigenous habitats, and saving tax dollars, work together.

WLP’s efforts with the Challis-Idaho BLM began with the Challis Herd Management Area in 2010, and have expanded to all six wild horse herd management areas in Idaho. An estimated expense of $50,000 for the lifetime of each wild horse the government removes from public lands, WLP programs, on and off the range, have saved US taxpayers more than $7.5 million dollars since 2013 and the program’s collaborative work on the range has saved over $1million tax dollars since 2014. Wild Love Preserve was instrumental in curtailing a proposed 2017 BLM helicopter roundup to instead implement a hay bait trap gather because of our collaborative work with the Challis wild horses since 2010 and continued fluid communications with the BLM and stakeholders.

The first phase of the $8.5 million plan is to raise $450,000 for the transition from WLP’s leased 400-acres in Challis, Idaho to Twin Sisters. It will cost $7.8m to buy Twin Sisters Ranch, including its equipment and vehicles.

The wildlife preserve at Twin Sisters will be protected in perpetuity. “By design, Wild Love’s wildlife preserve mirrors wild habitat on the range, serves as our extraordinary outdoor research laboratory,supports our collaborations, partnerships, youth employment and education programs, science and research studies, eco-tourism and public engagement,” Maki said.

So impressive to see these different constituencies working together to make a better place for these majestic animals.

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