Heart of therapeutic: Born Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Heart will get wildlife again into nature after struggling accidents

The smile on Tracy Bye’s face tells the story as she releases a juvenile bald eagle with Nick Metzler on Saturday March 9, 2022 simply west of Steamboat Springs.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & As we speak

With the sound of the rolling waters of the Yampa River filling the air, Tracy Bye opened the door of a service and smiled as she watched a golden eagle hop exterior. The eagle paused for a short second earlier than launching into blue Yampa Valley sky.

Moments like these are nothing new for Bye.

She has seen them numerous occasions since opening the Born Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Heart in Steamboat Springs 30 years in the past this spring. She estimates the rehabilitation middle has cared for greater than 5,000 injured animals.



“I simply really feel grateful that I will be of their presence and assist them heal,” Bye mentioned. “Whenever you launch them again to the wild — as a result of there’s only a gratitude that goes together with it — I can both cry (tears of pleasure) or smile. When persons are round, I all the time smile.”

The record of sufferers contains a variety of animals, from chipmunks and porcupines to deer and elk.



The concept of ​​opening a wildlife rehabilitation middle, Bye mentioned, got here from Colorado Parks and Wildlife worker Jim Hicks, who typically visited her classroom earlier than he retired in 1996. After one go to, Bye requested what it will take to open a middle. Bye’s dwelling dela was situated on seven acres, so she stuffed the primary requirement, and the remainder she would be taught.

A golden eagle takes flight over the Yampa River shortly after being launched close to Craig by Tracy Bye, who has operated the Born Free Wiildlife Rehabilitation Heart close to Steamboat Springs for 3 many years. } John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & As we speak

“We acquired plenty of injured animals that had been turned in to us, and we might take them to the vet, however then we wanted any person to handle them afterwards,” mentioned Hicks, who introduced an injured hawk to Bye not lengthy after she expressed an curiosity. “I helped her took out her fairly a bit when she first began and I her loads of animals.”

Within the final 30 years, Born Free has turn out to be part of Bye’s life, and he or she treasures the experiences that got here together with the middle.

“Yearly there was a standout one,” Bye mentioned of the animals she cared for. “Often, that is the one I wrote my tales about.”

Tracy Bye, who has operated the Born Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Heart close to Steamboat Springs for 3 many years, watches as a golden eagle takes flight from the banks of the Yampa River close to Craig final week. The chicken was considered one of two that Bye helped rescue, and launched again into the wild.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & As we speak

She remembers getting a child beaver, named Bullseye, one summer time who wouldn’t eat. Her son, Garrett, stepped in and would not hand over on the younger animal. He began feeding the critter bananas.

“Garrett spent hours with that beaver making an attempt to get it to eat, and at last it began consuming,” Bye mentioned. “We launched him up within the Flat Tops Wilderness Space on this pond the place we had seen beavers earlier than.”

Bullseye returned to the wild, and the restoration was deemed a hit. A yr later, Bye and her son dela returned to the pond curious to see how Bullseye was becoming into her new neighborhood.

“All the opposite beavers left as a result of we walked as much as the water,” Bye mentioned. “Garrett had bananas … after which Bullseye got here swimming in the direction of us, and we did not contact him or something, however we’re simply speaking to him. Then Garrett put the bananas down on the sting of the water, and (Bullseye) nonetheless appreciated them.”

It is experiences like this that preserve Bye coming again yr after yr, and taking up the challenges that include working a wildlife rehabilitation middle.

Final weekend, she launched a bald eagle simply west of Steamboat Springs that fractured her pelvis in what she expects was a tough touchdown. The opposite was a golden eagle that was discovered with a foul case of avian pox.

Each birds had been transported to the Birds of Prey Basis in Broomfield shortly after being rescued and spent months recovering.

“Again after I first began, we hardly acquired eagles — perhaps one each three years or one thing like that,” Bye mentioned. “Now, it is like 20 eagles a yr or one thing like that. It is not yearly, however the numbers have been going up.”

Bye just isn’t stunned that the variety of birds of prey she sees continues to rise. Extra folks within the space means extra bird-car collisions.

Additionally, a federal legislation in 1991 made it unlawful for hunters to make use of lead ammunition when looking waterfowl, however Bye mentioned wildlife consultants are nonetheless asking large recreation hunters, who can nonetheless use lead ammunition, to bury intestine piles with hopes that birds of prey will cease feeding on these stays and consuming the small lead shards left behind after an animal is shot.

A juvenile bald eagle takes flight after being launched west of Steamboat Springs on Saturday. March 9, 2022.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot & As we speak.

“I am not slowing down,” Bye mentioned. “I might say with extra folks shifting into the world, the extra animals that get harm.”

Fortunately, Bye has a full workers of volunteers and would not want any extra. She mentioned it’s nonetheless troublesome at occasions to stability her paying jobs with the calls for of working a rehabilitation middle, however she would not have it every other approach.

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