Events bring Siberian tiger’s plight to Steamboat |

Events bring Siberian tiger’s plight to Steamboat

Nicole Inglis

Photographer John Goodrich captured this photo of a wild-born Amur (Siberian) tiger in a wildlife rehabilitation center in Far East Russia. His work will be on display this month at Ciao Gelato and Comb Goddess, beginning at First Friday Artwalk.

— Tracy Bye is worried that in the lifetimes of her teenage sons, the Siberian tiger could become extinct. With only 400 of the majestic beasts left in far eastern Russia, the Steamboat resident and licensed wildlife rehabilitator hopes she can help make a difference in the tiger's plight.

"We need to recognize that the whole world needs to support them," Bye said. "If we lose wild tigers, we lose a lot. I just want to raise awareness."

Bye, who runs Born Free Wildlife Rehabilitation in Steamboat Springs, is bringing the issue home to the Yampa Valley.

What started as Bye's interest in volunteering to collar tigers in Russia has evolved into a multidimensional artistic, literary and scientific series of events this weekend to help raise awareness and funds to save Siberian tigers.

Through her passionate research into Siberian tigers, Bye came into contact with a photographer, a scientist and a writer who all are involved in the issue and who were willing to participate in the fundraising events.

The series begins during First Friday Artwalk, in which wildlife photographer John Goodrich will show his striking tiger photography at Ciao Gelato and Comb Goddess.

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In addition, Bye helped bring in author John Vaillant, who wrote "The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival." The National Geographic and Outside Magazine writer will give a free book talk at 7 p.m. Friday at Bud Werner Memorial Library.

On Saturday, Wildlife Conservation Society biologist Dale Miquelle will offer a presentation on his work studying and saving the tigers, which are dwindling in numbers because of loss of habitat, loss of prey and poaching.

"All these guys are so humble," Bye said. "Dale told me this story of the first tiger they collared. You could tell how connected he was to that tiger. It's mesmerizing to hear him talk about this."

Throughout the events, donations will be accepted to benefit the Wildlife Conservation Society's Siberian Tiger Project.

"From a biological perspective, they're the largest carnivore in the world and they are the apex predator," said Miquelle, who has extended family in Steamboat but spends most of his time in Russia. "If you can save animals like large tigers, you can essentially save the whole ecosystem.

"But from a personal, ethical perspective, they're just one of the most magnificent animals on Earth and they're on their way to extinction. We have a moral obligation to try to save these animals."

If the issue feels somewhat far away from Steamboat Springs, that's because geographically, it is. But that isn't a reason to ignore it, Miquelle said.

"On the one hand, tigers are a long way away," he said. "But on the other hand, everyone knows what a tiger is, and the issue of conservation of wildlife is an issue that resonates across the world."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email

Tiger events

Friday: John Goodrich’s tiger photography on display from 5 to 8 p.m. at Comb Goddess and Ciao Gelato, John Vaillant author talk at 7 p.m. at Bud Werner Memorial Library Hall.

Saturday: Siberian Tiger Project presentation with Dale Miquelle at 6:30 p.m. at Steamboat Springs High School

For more

View full First Friday Artwalk listings here.

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