Magazine Feature / People

Alumna rehabilitates orphaned fawns

Whether it means walking across three lanes of traffic to save an enormous dog named Leonard or helping build steel barriers to protect prairie dogs from a highway, for Sharon Greenleaf La Pierre (PhD education ’87), “driving on by” is not an option when she sees one of nature’s creatures in need.

“You can’t save the world, you can’t save everyone, but you can stop and help with that one case,” says La Pierre, who in 2000 founded the Wildlife Legacy Trust to support projects of wildlife preservation and protection as well as injured and orphaned animals.

In 2002, she turned her attention to orphaned deer fawns. She’d heard about healthy fawns being killed to test for fatal chronic wasting disease, even though, she says, the disease is not transmitted from mother to offspring.

“I’m a very hands-on person, and I had to do something about it,” she explains.

La Pierre discovered that there were no licensed fawn rehabilitators in Colorado’s Boulder County, where she lives. Because no one could legally care for orphaned or injured fawns in the area, the animals were automatically killed for testing.

Not only were there no caregivers, but there was no one La Pierre could study with to become a licensed rehabilitator. So, La Pierre packed her suitcase and traveled to California to spend the summer with a leading fawn rescuer.

“We rehabbed over 100 fawns, and it was the most exhilarating experience of my life,” says La Pierre, who helped care for fawns orphaned or injured by traffic, fencing or domestic animals.

Equipped with her experience, La Pierre was granted her license by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and began to train other individuals so that when orphaned or injured fawns were discovered, they could be rehabilitated instead of given over for testing.

“You have to be persistent and use whatever is in your experience to contribute in your own way to your world,” she says. “Actions speak louder than words. Because I loved animals so much, I couldn’t just walk away.”


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