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 At present

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 exterior. 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 because the Born Free Wildlife Rehab Middle opened in Steamboat Springs 30 years in the past this spring. She estimates that the rehabilitation middle 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. “Once 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 individuals are round, I all the time smile.”

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



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

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 At present

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

Up to now 30 years, Born Free has grow to be part of Bye’s life, and she or he 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 chook was certainly one of two that helped Bai to the rescue, releasing him again into the wild.
John F Russell / Steamboat Pilot At present

She remembers getting a child beaver, named Paul, one summer season 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 she or he (Paulsey) nonetheless loves it.”

It is experiences like this that make Bye come again 12 months after 12 months, going through the challenges that include working a wildlife rehabilitation middle.

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 chook pox.

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

“After I first began working, we had no vultures in any respect — perhaps 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 individuals within the space means extra bird-car crashes.

Additionally, a federal regulation in 1991 prohibited hunters from utilizing lead ammunition when looking waterfowl, however Bay mentioned wildlife consultants nonetheless require giant sport hunters, who can nonetheless use lead ammunition, to bury intestine piles within the hope that the raptors will do this. Cease feeding on these leftovers and consuming the tiny bullet fragments left by the fireplace after taking pictures 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 At present.

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

Luckily, Bye has a full crew of volunteers and does not want any extra. She mentioned it is nonetheless typically troublesome to steadiness her paying jobs with the necessities of working a rehab middle, however she would not get it another approach.

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