From July 18th by our founder, Susan Tyner:
We have a little bit of sad news to report to the hundreds of thousands of good people who have attended one or more of Martin’s wildlife programs, “Birds of Prey of the West.”
His dear friend and one of our favorite wildlife ambassadors, “Thumper” the Harris Hawk, was killed and partially eaten in his chamber while he slept, by a wild raccoon. His chamber had a heating duct that ran through the floor. Somehow the raccoon was able to crawl into the heating duct, travel about 20 feet in the duct-work, push up the floor grates and enter his chamber.
Since then 3 wild raccoons have been trapped attempting to enter our rehab chambers and pigeon loft. By Utah State law, any raccoons trapped must be euthanized. It is illegal to rehabilitate or relocate raccoons in the state of Utah.
Thumper was the last baby Harris Hawk from Martin’s captive breeding program. He had a difficult time breaking out of his egg and so Martin had to assist him as he hatched. Thumper hatched in Martin’s hands. They became the best of friends.
Thumper was a dedicated game hawk as well as a wonderful wildlife ambassador for the Southwest Wildlife Foundation. He was 28 years old which is about three times longer that an average Harris hawk would live in the wild. At his age he was frail and a little senile, kind of like a hundred year old man. As long as the weather was nice and warm he would spend his days and nights outside in his chamber, but for the last many years when the weather would turn cold he would come into the house and spend time watching TV with the family. He was like an old retired hunting dog.
He will be missed.
P.S. Martin is getting ready for his “Birds of Prey of the West” program today. It will be his first program in almost 3 decades without Thumper.