Thirty years ago, when Sherri Tippie first got interested in trying to save a keystone species whose habitat was being wiped out by breakneck development up and down the Front Range, she was ridiculed by wildlife officials as a rank amateur. What, after all, could a hairdresser and former go-go dancer know about trapping and relocating beaver?
But over the last three decades Tippie has trapped, fed, cuddled, relocated and serenaded more beaver than anyone else on the planet. Wildlife agencies now routinely come to her for guidance and inspiration -- as did the PBS program Nature, which airs a segment this week on the growing effort to reintroduce beaver to revitalize rivers across the West and features Tippie as one of the top crusaders for the species.
The hour-long segment, "Leave It to Beavers," airs on Wednesday, May 14 (7 p.m. MDT on Rocky Mountain PBS, Channel 6). It's long overdue recognition by one of the country's top nature programs of Tippie's work, which was the subject of my 2011 feature, also (predictably) titled "Leave It to Beaver."
Tippie works with municipalities, water districts and high-country ranches to relocate beaver endangered by development or to put solutions in place to allow them and their dams to coexist with burgeoning suburbs. She hasn't seen the Nature program herself yet, but says she's hearing good things about it. "Everybody seems to really like it," she says, "and to like me, for some reason."
It's been a rough few months for Tippie since her role in the segment was filmed, including a knee replacement and other health issues. But she expects to be installing more flow devices that will help preserve dams and relocating beaver for Aurora this summer.
For a preview of Tippie's star turn, check out the clip below.
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