Healing Center: Born Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Center brings injured wildlife back to nature

The smile on Tracy Bay’s face tells the story as she shoots a child bald eagle with Nick Metzler on Saturday, March 9, 2022 west of Steamboat Springs.
John F Russell / Steamboat Pilot Immediately

With the sound of the flowing water of the Yampa River filling the air, Tracy Bay opened the door of one of many tankers and smiled as she watched the golden eagle leap outdoors. The eagle paused for a second earlier than taking off into the blue sky of Yampa Valley.

Moments like this aren’t new to eBay.

She’s seen her numerous instances for the reason that Born Free Wildlife Rehab Middle opened in Steamboat Springs 30 years in the past this spring. She estimates that the rehabilitation heart has cared for greater than 5,000 injured animals.



“I’m simply so grateful to have the ability to be of their presence and assist them heal,” Bey mentioned. “If you launch them again into the wild—for there may be solely gratitude that accompanies it—I can both cry (tears of pleasure) or smile. When persons are round, I all the time smile.”

The sick listing contains all kinds of animals, from chipmunks and porcupines to deer and elk.



Bay mentioned the concept to open a wildlife rehabilitation heart got here from Jim Hicks, an worker of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, who typically visited her classroom earlier than retiring in 1996. After one go to, Bay requested what it will take to open a middle. Bai’s home was positioned on seven acres, so that you fulfilled the primary situation, and you’ll be taught the remaining.

A golden eagle flies over the Yampa River shortly after being launched close to Craig by Tracy Bay, who ran the Born Free Wiildlife Rehabilitation Middle close to Steamboat Springs for 3 a long time. } John F Russell / Steamboat Pilot Immediately

“We’ve a number of injured animals handed over to us, and we will take them to the vet, however then we would have liked somebody to handle them after that,” mentioned Hicks, who introduced an injured hawk to Bay quickly after. She expressed curiosity. “I helped her rather a lot when she began and took a number of animals for her.”

Up to now 30 years, Born Free has turn into part of Bye’s life, and he or she values ​​the experiences that got here together with the middle.

She mentioned goodbye to the animals she was caring for: “Yearly there was a particular occasion.” “Normally, that is what my tales write about.”

Tracy Bay, who has run the Born Free Wildlife Reification Middle close to Steamboat Springs for 3 a long time, watched a golden eagle fly from the banks of the Yampa River close to Craig final week. The hen was certainly one of two that helped Bai to the rescue, releasing him again into the wild.
John F Russell / Steamboat Pilot Immediately

She remembers getting a child beaver, named Paul, one summer time who did not eat. Her son Garrett intervenes and won’t abandon the little animal. He began feeding the creature bananas.

“Garrett spent hours with that beaver making an attempt to get him to eat, and ultimately he began consuming,” Bay mentioned. “We launched him into the Flat Tops wilderness on this pond the place we have seen beavers earlier than.”

Bullseye returned to the wild, and the restoration was deemed profitable. A 12 months later, Bay and her son returned to the pond curious to see how Paulsey would match into his new neighborhood.

“All the opposite beavers left as a result of we walked into the water,” he mentioned goodbye. “Garrett had bananas…then Paul got here swimming in direction of us, and we did not contact him or something, we simply speak to him. Then Garrett put the bananas on the water’s edge, and he or she (Paulsey) nonetheless loves it.”

It is experiences like this that make Bye come again 12 months after 12 months, dealing with the challenges that include operating a wildlife rehabilitation heart.

Final weekend I shot a bald eagle simply west of Steamboat Springs that broke its pelvis in what I anticipated to be a tough touchdown. The opposite was a golden eagle that was present in a poor situation of hen pox.

Each birds had been taken to Birds of Prey in Broomfield shortly after they had been rescued and spent months recovering.

“Once I first began working, we had no vultures in any respect — possibly one each three years or one thing,” he mentioned goodbye. “Now, it is like 20 vultures a 12 months or one thing. It isn’t yearly, however the numbers are going up.”

Goodbye It is no shock that the variety of birds of prey you see continues to rise. Extra folks within the space means extra bird-car crashes.

Additionally, a federal regulation in 1991 prohibited hunters from utilizing lead ammunition when searching waterfowl, however Bay mentioned wildlife specialists nonetheless require massive sport hunters, who can nonetheless use lead ammunition, to bury intestine piles within the hope that the raptors will try this. Cease feeding on these leftovers and consuming the tiny bullet fragments left by the fireplace after capturing an animal.

A child bald eagle is in flight after being launched west of Steamboat Springs on Saturday. March 9, 2022.
John F. Russell/Steamboat Pilot and Immediately.

“I am not slowing down,” Bai mentioned. “I’d say that as extra folks transfer into the realm, the extra animals are contaminated.”

Fortuitously, Bye has a full crew of volunteers and would not want any extra. She mentioned it is nonetheless typically tough to steadiness her paying jobs with the necessities of operating a rehab heart, however she would not get it every other method.

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