This is a story started way back on September 26th, 2018.
And we’ve kept it secret over a year as we worked with associates and volunteers to put everything together to get to this point.
Today it is official. Our founder, Martin Tyner, is one of 31 nominees in the running for the 2020 Indianapolis Prize.
“The Indianapolis Prize recognizes and rewards conservationists who have achieved major victories in advancing the sustainability of an animal species or group of species. Winners receive an unrestricted $250,000 award. Remaining Finalists each receive $10,000.”
We are incredibly excited about Martin’s nomination and thrilled to see his work acknowledged among the ranks of 30 other amazing conservationists!
The Indianapolis Prize is the world’s leading award for animal conservation and its nominees hail from countries around the globe.
We hope you will join us in congratulating Martin and all of the 31 nominees as well as thanking the Indianapolis Prize officials for supporting the work they do. The Indianapolis Prize social sites will be sharing more information about each nominee in the coming months.
One of the most common questions asked of Martin is if he ever gets bit by the critters he helps and works with. In this video he will address that issue and tell the story of when he worked at Busch Gardens and one eagle “playfully” put all four of his talons through Martin’s hand.
These are birds that Martin takes with him to education presentations. Between presentations, they are part of the family and require daily care, attention and training.
A regular routine is essential to maintain the birds training the their relationship with Martin. Martin’s time and assurances through falconry techniques helps to calm the birds when they go into so many different types of situations during wildlife educational presentations.
This video shows Martin’s daily routine of checking in each bird at night and moving them into the house for bedtime. Then early in the morning, returning them back out to their chambers and feeding them a natural diet. The time they spend together each day is essential to their overall training and sense of well being.
We want to send a BIG THANK YOU to our many donors who believe in us and support us financially, physically and emotionally. Many of you have been supportive of the work we do long before the Southwest Wildlife Foundation became a 501 C 3 non-profit on September 29, 1997.
In the past twenty years your support has helped us provide more than 2,000 wildlife and environmental educational outreach programs to schools, scout groups and community events reaching more than 800,000 people; care for over 1,600 sick, injured and orphaned wildlife, releasing more than 950 back to the wild, giving them a second chance at life and freedom.
Martin has been rescuing and caring for wild critters now for over 50 years. He began with his first owl rescue when he was 12 years old, so the numbers are actually much higher. We want to thank all of you for helping rescue us when things got rough, giving us the support we need to continue this important work of rehabilitating injured wildlife and returning them to the wild.
Education is the real key. Teaching the younger
generation to be more respectful of our wildlife and the environment that we share. There is so much to learn and understand about nature and how we can live together in harmony. With the help of our volunteers we are doing our best to share our message with the world.
Thanks, we appreciate all of you so much!
Martin & Susan Tyner,
Founders Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah
This video includes a few follow-up visits with animals introduced previously, as well a quick glance in on our Wildlife Ambassadors during mealtime.
First up, are a couple looks in with the Halloween Turkey Vulture. This vulture has a broken wing and is still recovering. Very wild, and getting stronger, the vulture hisses plenty at Susan and Martin when they enter the chamber to provide food. Visits with recovering animals are kept to a minimum to keep them calm.
The Golden Eagle that was hit by a car and had a concussion and neurological issues is moved back into the larger chamber. He gave some fight to Martin when approached. We are pleased to see the eagle’s fight and strength returning.
Also included in this video is a snippet of one of Martin’s many educational presentations with the Wildlife Ambassadors. With female Prairie Falcon, Cirrus, on his arm, Martin tells the story of another female prairie falcon he worked with who was not nearly as sweet as Cirrus.
Martin tells the story of how Rocky Mountain Power/PacifiCorp donated 22.6 acres of majestic canyon property in Cedar City, Utah to create a permanent wildlife rescue facility and nature park.
Nestled between beautiful red sandstone mountains, our goal is to provide a public educational facility dedicated to the environments represented by the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. The Cedar Canyon Nature Park sits on the transition point between these two unique ecosystems.
During a recent trip to Salt Lake City in celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary, Susan made surprise plans for Martin. To his surprise the trip included a visit to the state capital building. Susan had contacted Senate Representative Evan J. Vickers about Martin’s 50 years of critter care. Senator Vickers honored Martin on the Utah State Senate floor with an acknowledgment of his lifelong wildlife work.
Here is Susan’s letter:
Martin Tyner – Federally licensed, wildlife rehabilitator, wildlife and environmental educator.
For 50 years Mr. Tyner, as a volunteer, has been caring for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife and has been providing wildlife educational outreach programs for schools, scout groups, eagle court of honors and community events throughout the western United States.
Mr. Tyner is personally responsible for the rescue, rehabilitation and release of thousands of native Utah wildlife and has provided an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of school children and adults to have an up-close and personal experience with his wildlife ambassadors, including his best friend, Scout, the golden eagle.
Mr. Tyner and his wife Susan founded the Southwest Wildlife Foundation 20 years ago.
With a generous gift from Pacificorp/ Scottish Power/ Rocky Mountain Power of 22.6 acres of beautiful canyon property on Highway 14 in Cedar City, the Tyner’s with a dedicated group of volunteers, are developing the Cedar Canyon Nature Park to continue to educate future generations about the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin ecosystems.
The reason for the Tyner’s visit to Salt Lake City is to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Mrs. Tyner has requested this opportunity to publicly acknowledge her husband’s lifelong dedication and service to not only the wildlife and the people of Utah, but for his love and devotion as a husband, a father and her best friend.
If appropriate, Susan would like to read this statement below:
I want to thank Senate Representative Evan J. Vickers for allowing me to take a moment of your time to publicly acknowledge my husband, Martin Tyner, my best friend and the love of my life for his lifelong service and dedication to wildlife, community, the Great State of Utah and beyond.
For our 40th wedding anniversary I would like to tell my husband how proud I am of him for following his grandfather’s wise teachings, “To get up every morning and do Good.” And Yes this April will mark 50 years that Martin has dedicated his life, love and devotion to wildlife and his educational programs to help make our world a better place.
Martin tells his audience at his programs, “I am the luckiest man on earth to have found such a wonderful, beautiful, sweet, young lady to have put up with me for all of these years.”
The truth of the matter is I’m the lucky one. I am blessed to have such an amazing and loving husband. And although Martin might feel that he has no special skills or talents. Everyone that knows Martin well, understands his gifts and that he has lived an amazing life of service and dedication.
I love you Sweetheart. Happy 40th Anniversary!
The zip file below contains high resolution images, images for post on social sites and the text of Susan’s letter.
Our Thanks to Steven Franzen for sharing this story with us and giving us permission to share with everyone!
The Master and The Apprentice
A middle-aged falconers journey thus far
When I was very young, my family and I would take several trips a year from our home in southern Wisconsin to visit family in the northeast corner of Iowa. The ride was around 3 hours or so. At the age of eight, I began to notice large birds perched on the tops of the telephone poles along the highways we traveled. And after convincing my mother to purchase a “bird book”, I was able to make an effort to begin identifying these creatures, and perhaps, learn a thing or two about them!
I spent countless hours reading my “bird book”. And after only a few days, I had considered myself the world’s foremost expert on everything with wings! And my expert opinion concluded that only two species of birds existed between home and Iowa…. the red-tailed Hawk, and the American Kestrel. It was clear to me that I must conduct field studies to support my opinion! And so I began the arduous task of counting the red-tails and kestrels that I would see from the backseat of a Toyota Camry!
The journey had begun
In late November of 2011, I was fortunate enough to purchase a second home in southern Utah. Although I was residing in Las Vegas at the time, the “Utah house” was a short and picturesque two hour drive! Ok, perhaps the Interstate 15 between Las vegas and St. George is not so “pretty”. However, when you look at it from a falconers perspective, it’s a paradise! And so going to Utah became a recurring adventure most every weekend! In January of the following year, I received a wedding gift from the previous owners of the Utah house. I tore into the package like I was eight years-old again on a Christmas morning ! When it was all said and done, I found myself holding a paperback book. And on the cover of this book, was a man who I had never seen before.
The cover photo was incredible! However, it was not so much the photo itself that caught my attention, but more so what he was doing when this photo was taken. Over the years, my burning desire to be a falconer had to be kept in check as a result of “life circumstances”. I read the book in it’s entirety that night! And after doing so, my lifelong desire to be a falconer began to burn hotter than ever before!! I realized that now was the time to act on that dream. And if I did not, I would certainly succumb to a nuclear meltdown!
On a warm and breezy January afternoon in Las Vegas, Nevada, I found myself placing a phone call to a man named Martin Tyner. Needless to say, I was extremely nervous! What does a want-to-be falconry apprentice say to a master class falconer of over 40 years? Fortunately, I had convinced myself to just keep it simple. About three seconds later, he answered the phone. I introduced myself by name and explained to him that I am seriously interested in becoming an apprentice falconer. Although it is unlikely, I imagined him thinking to himself.. “Oh man, another one??”. In reality, he was extremely kind and accommodating. And after a 20 minute conversation, he extended an invitation to meet him in person the next time I was in Utah.
Less than a week later, I was on my way to Cedar City, Utah. And although the directions provided to me by Martin were simple to follow, I did manage to get lost… twice! Of course, I made no mention of my cartographical handicap to him! When I finally arrived at the Parowan Gap, I noticed a tan Subaru Forester with aftermarket labeling that read “Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah”. My heart started to race, I may have even started to perspire more than usual! Nevertheless, I parked, stepped out of my vehicle, circled around to the back, and found myself face to face with the master!
I spent the next eighteen months visiting Martin as often as I could without becoming a nuisance! Additionally, I read and studied anything and everything I could find about falconry and the general biology of the falconry birds themselves. I spent the falconry season of 2012-2013 “shadowing” another master class falconer in Las Vegas. This same master class would eventually become my sponsor during my apprenticeship. As much as I wanted Martin to be my sponsor, I was not a permanent resident of Utah, and therefore could not obtain a Utah falconry permit.
In June of 2013, after completing all the necessary steps, I was issued an apprentice falconry permit through the state of Nevada. After 37 years, this was a long time coming! I called Martin in a fit of excitement! And even though he was proud of me, I was quickly put in my place with these words… “That’s great! Now the hard part begins”
In October of 2013, I successfully trapped my first falconry bird just south of Beryl Junction, Utah. After securing the hawk, I immediately called Martin to inform him of my victory! He instructed me to bring the hawk to his home where he would check the bird over and assist me with installing the anklets and jesses. I arrived at Martin’s home after what seemed like an eternity! I handed Martin my “prize”, and after a thorough inspection, he declared the hawk to be healthy and fit!
A short while later, I set course for home in Las Vegas with my new friend “Andy”, a passage (juvenile) male red-tailed hawk!
Six years ago, my relationship with Martin and Susan Tyner was strictly “falconry professional”, for lack of a better term. However, in that time, I have gotten to know them quite well. And they have gotten to know me as well. In March of 2014, I went through a divorce. And although it was very amicable on paper, it absolutely destroyed me from the inside out. I found my mind entering some very dark places. The depression was consuming me faster than a peregrine in a stoop! And unless I found someone and/or something to hold onto, well…. I don’t think I need to go any further on that subject. I managed to find some rational thought, and determined that, in addition to time, the following key points would help me heal…
Martin and Susan, falconry (and my other feathered friends), and my profession.
The intent of this short story is not meant to be about me. And I am not a “writer” by any means. However, I felt it necessary to share my story of how I met Martin and Susan and the incredibly positive impact they have had on me! At any given time, you the reader, will find yourself on this website reading, donating, or simply appreciating the tireless work that this foundation puts forth!
What you will not read about (perhaps until now), is how the two focal points of this foundation, through falconry and genuine friendship, helped a man on the verge of complete self destruction… recover.
Healer of Angels? There is no doubt!
Healers of people? Perhaps so!
My name is Steven T. Franzen. I am 41 years-old and reside in New River, Arizona. I am a professional air traffic control specialist, a general class falconer, and friend to the Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Utah.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Parowan Gap Field Excursion Martin provided for the Washington Episcopal School.
A surprise visitor, a great basin rattle snake, posed for pictures for the students and teachers. Excited students were warned to stay back to give this rattler some space as students snapped photos to send their families back east.
Martin taught the value snakes have in the wild by eating small rodents to keep rodent populations under control. All native snakes including rattlers are protected by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. They are an important part of our ecosystem and we should treat them with respect.
Thumper, Cirrus and Scout helped with the program as well. You can see Cirrus looking up at the sky and Martin pointing up to the sky as he holds Scout. The birds kept looking up at a Golden Eagle that was soaring high above us.
Our deepest thanks to the TV show and web site RightThisMinute for sharing our story of an Eagle’s amazing recovery! Extra thanks to host, Gayle Bass and writer, Josh B, for highlighting the problem of lead poisoning in Eagles.
We’re truly grateful for their wonderful edit and promotion of this tale as education is a crucial element to the work Martin does.