New Neighbors in Enoch5 min read

By John Turner


It’s always gratifying to hear or read about a person who has set out to achieve a lifetime goal. That goal might be to write a best selling book, visit all the National Parks, or open a restaurant. Those stories are often heartwarming and make for a nice story on the news.  It’s not so common to actually meet someone who has achieved that lifelong goal. Last week, I met such a person.  His name is Martin Tyner and you may have heard of him during his 45 years of work with wildlife rehabilitation, or you may have visited his former facility, The Southwest Wildlife Foundation of Southern Utah in Cedar Canyon near the waterfall.

After dozens of years at that facility, it became obvious that his Cedar City location was no longer appropriate for the vision he and his wife Susan had, and, after exploring his options, the city of Enoch welcomed them with open arms and construction began at the current location just off Minersville Hwy.

Martin and Susan have now opened a state of the art wildlife rehabilitation facility that is the culmination of their life’s work.  He estimates the rescue center will take in and care for between 100-200 hundred native creatures every year, any of whom may be injured, orphaned, or sick.  Restoring them to health and releasing them to the wild is the ultimate goal.

On Saturday, April 27th I had the privilege of attending the grand opening and open house of this new facility.  Birds of prey are his most regular “customers” and their injuries include damaged or broken wings, leg injuries, poisoning and even falling from their nest.  I was also lucky enough to witness and take pictures of a tiny rescued cottontail being hand fed by Susan.  If someone happens to come across an injured critter and searches for a place to care for it, the Enoch Wildlife Rescue Center will usually be the result.  People can bring the animal to the rescue center, or, if necessary and practical, Martin or one of his team will go out and pick up the “patient.”

The weather for the ribbon cutting event was all-day drizzle, but the atmosphere at the shelter was warm and upbeat and the rain and mud didn’t spoil the festivities in any way.  Martin and Susan hosted a very official looking ribbon cutting, along with some heartfelt words and stories from Martin, who described the long journey that brought him to this special occasion, surrounded by friends, family, and local officials, including board members, Bob Padilla of Cornerstone Development who built the facility and Geofrey Chesnut, the Mayor of Enoch, along with a host of volunteers of all ages whom he thanked sincerely for their efforts.

Several times during the day, he gathered his attendees together and along with each one of his bonded birds, he told stories, posed for pictures, and patiently answered questions from all of the gathered patrons.  Over 100 guests were on hand to congratulate Martin and Susan, and quite likely they all saw each other at the car wash the next day to scrub off the mud from a drizzly but very enjoyable outing.

The facility itself has 15 individual rehab chambers, but the majority of the building is taken up by two 20 x 100 foot long eagle flight chambers which allow recuperating birds to test their wings safely within the building and under supervision, testing to see if they’re ready to fly again in the wild.  The rest of the building is taken up by office space, and a lobby art gallery featuring many beautiful paintings, drawings, and photographs of wildlife and the beautiful scenery we all enjoy, living here in Southern Utah.   The Center is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and all of this wonderful art is available for sale, as a way to provide some of the financial support to the organization.

Martin has hundreds of educational videos on YouTube, ranging from how to care for an injured eagle to how to feed a hummingbird, all of which generate additional revenue.  These videos are seen worldwide, and have appealed to many international donors who watch and now support the work that Martin is doing.

Much of the focus of Martin’s work is educating others, his extensive resume includes being a Federally licensed falconer and eagle falconer, wildlife rehabilitator, wildlife propagator, and wildlife and environmental educator.  Every year he provides over 100 educational and very entertaining programs that reach over 30,000 interested attendees.  He told me that he and his staff are limited to just a few hundred animals they can take in each year, whereas his message about critter care and awareness reaches far more people through the classes he teaches at schools, scout troops, church groups and corporate retreats etc.  He is also an optional stop offered to travelers on National Park tours.  As a result of his educational courses, he is proud to proclaim “if I can get a child this close to an eagle, that child will never hurt an eagle”  and while shooting the pictures of Martin and his birds, I couldn’t help but notice that together, they define the word “bonding.”

The Enoch Rescue Center is not always open to the public.  If you go to the website or call the office at (435) 586-4693 you can learn more about attending upcoming educational events, arranging a group event of your own, booking a tour of the facility, and how to volunteer, donate and support such a worthwhile cause.


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