KINGSTON — When Andrea Maki, 51-year-old Kingston resident, opened Wild Love Preserve, she had “no idea it would turn into a history making project.”
Wild Love Preserve is a wild horse preserve located on 400 acres of land in Central Idaho, where 136 horses currently reside.
Maki said, “Our goal is to be able to manage wild horse population on our multi-use public lands in a manor that does not call for helicopter round ups and removals.
“The concept of this project is being able to keep these wild horses together and … giving them the opportunity to just be who they are as wild horses,” Maki said.
After the wild horse roundup in Challis, Idaho, in 2009, Maki, who was in the area for her dog’s surgery, decided to start Wild Love Preserve, but she’s been involved with efforts to save wild horses since 2004. Wild Love Preserve was officially founded in 2010. In 2012, Maki said the preserve “adopted every single horse made available” from the 2012 Challis roundup.
The whole point is to let the horses continue to live, in a protected environment, without human interference, as much as possible. Maki said they do provide supplemental feed in wintertime, and the nature of the environment necessitates filing the horses’ hooves down — a process that normally is taken care of by rough, rocky terrain, which doesn’t exist on the leased property Wild Love Preserve is using at the moment.
The goal is for the preserve is privately funded by donors and benefactors including Stone Gossard, of Pearl Jam, the ASPCA, Humane Society and more. Maki said she herself had to sell her Seattle home and studio to help fund the preserve.
“It’s a costly project to say the least,” Maki said. “It is not cheap, but it matters.”
Maki said hopefully by spring, the preserve will look a little different. Instead of 400 acres of leased land, it’ll be on 10,000 acres of land owned by Wild Love Preserve, if all things go as planned.
“The 10,000 acres is gorgeous with the trees and mountains and streams and watersheds,” Maki said.
There, hoof filing would not be necessary as the terrain would wear the hooves down naturally. But also, the true vision of the project can be more fully realized.
“My goal has always been to create a wild life preserve in which wild horses lead the way to protecting ecosystems,” Maki said. “Wolves, mountain lions, bear, elk, coyote, wild horses … versus being a fenced in wild horse sanctuary.
“(Wild Love Preserve) has evolved into a model and a framework … that has garnered national attention and being sourced as a model for humane and responsible approach to wild horse conservation on their home turf.”
Maki, on top of being the founder and president of the Wild Love Preserve, is also a self-employed contemporary visual artist. They go hand in hand.
“I’ve always used my work as a means of spreading awareness about these issues,” Maki said. “I have always been engaged with the environment and animals and accountability.
“It just sort of flows through my veins,” she said. “When there is a need, a call to help, I’m a person who believes in stepping in … that’s our responsibility as two-leggeds, is to take care of the whole. That’s just how I’ve always operated.”
Maki said she’s been back and forth to Idaho “more times than I can ever begin to count since 2010,” but she finds the work fulfilling.
“I love all of the animals and wildlife, and I enjoy being able to look into the eyes and see animals and wildlife that might not be here, if Wild Love Preserve didn’t exist. That makes me happy, to see we have 136 wild horses that … would have been shipped to long-term holding in other states at taxpayer expense and split up,” Maki said.
At Wild Love Preserve, those family bands and herds can stick together or separate as they choose, instead of being “decimated” by roundups. She said that taxpayers have been saved about $7.5 million since Wild Love Preserve started its efforts.
“Being able to see them happy and running around and being wild and just doing what they do, that really makes my heart sing,” Maki said. “We need to protect our wildness, now and for future generations. It’s hard work, and I’ve sacrificed basically everything, but it matters, and it matters to our whole.”
For more information or to find out how you can help, visit wildlovepreserve.org.