Steamboat Springs Tracey Bye wants to help wildlife. She has been aiding in the recovery of hundreds of animals for 14 years.
Bye, a first-grade teacher at Soda Creek Elementary School, operates Born Free Wildlife, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured animals.
She routinely nurses creatures such as field mice, moose, elk, antelope, golden eagles and sand hill cranes back to health.
Bye is licensed to take care of these animals and works out of her home near Oak Creek.
She receives the injured animals from the Division of Wildlife, the Sheriff's Department, State Troopers, and citizens.
"My main goal is to release them back into the wild," Bye said.
During the summer months, Bye is especially busy. She is currently housing 18 animals and said she normally cares for around 18 to 25 between June and August.
Most of the guests in Bye's home are brought to her after flying into power lines or being hit by a car, though some visitors have different stories.
Recently, a young antelope was brought to Born Free Wildlife. Antelope are not uncommon, but the animal's circumstances were a little unusual.
A work crew in Craig came across some fawn antelope and one worker decided he wanted to take one home to his family in Oklahoma. The man hid the animal in his hotel room.
Hotel employees in Craig discovered the antelope and authorities confiscated the animal and brought it to Bye. The antelope was not injured.
Bye stresses the importance of not domesticating the animals so that they are still capable of living on their own when they fully recover.
"It's important that the animals only imprint on me," Bye said.
Over the past few years, Bye has tended to an average of more than100 animals per year. She runs the nonprofit organization with the help of her family and occasionally younger members of 4-H, who help with the feeding of the animals.
Jake Flax is an intern for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. He is a graduate of Steamboat Springs High School and will attend Colorado State University in the fall.