Louis Bockner/News staff
Dressed in a heavy collared shirt and tough jeans, Jeff Krieger exudes an air of formal ruggedness, like Indiana Jones at a press conference.
Krieger sits in an overstuffed leather chair in his Metchosin home. The small Harris hawk on his knee is a juvenile male named Taruk and the larger one on his hand is a female named Easy. In his lap sits a Jack Russell terrier named Pixie.
He has always had an affinity for wildlife. As a child growing up in Windsor, Ontario, Krieger spent every possible moment out in the woods. Now he’s had “every animal under the sun,” including fruit bats, muskrats and “every kind of reptile possible.”
His business, Alternative Wildlife Solutions, offers a humane option for dealing with wild animals which settle in attics, garages or anywhere else on their property. Otters under floorboards and hawks in grocery stores are all part of a days work for Krieger, who started the business eight years ago with encouragement from Sara Dubois,
Manager of Wildlife Services at Metchosin’s BCSPCA Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre (Wild ARC).
Dubois and Krieger, both volunteers at the centre, saw a niche for safe animal relocation and rehabilitation.
“There were other people doing removal but no one was doing anything humane,” Krieger says. “They’d just trap them and then euthanize them.”
Within a year part-time turned into full-time, leading to a life as unique as the situations he deals with.
“There’s no school you can go to, to learn what I do,” he says. “I basically made up a career that I love.”
That love shines through when he talks about the animals that share his home. Along with Pixie, Easy and Taruk, there is a peregrine falcon, a red-tailed hawk, an endangered Madagascar tree boa (the only one in North America) two cats and a 65-pound sulcata tortoise.
The trio Krieger sits with on the chair add an element to his work that gives his business a leg, or wing, up on the competition. While Pixie flushes out unwanted rabbits from school fields Easy soars overhead waiting for a sign of movement and a reason to dive toward Earth.
This aspect of his job is the only one that steps outside his no kill policy, but even in this he finds comfort in the fact that his birds are being fed, doing what they would naturally do in the wild.
“Birds of prey particularly are just so noble and so prestigious,” he says.
Along with running his business and caretaking at Wild ARC, Krieger uses the tree boa, tortoise and peregrine falcon to educate the public, especially students, about the importance of caring for endangered and exotic species.
Despite the odd bite or peck to the face, Krieger has never had to go the hospital while on the job – a feat he attributes to years of experience and “knowing what you’re doing.”
Ultimately the minor wounds are nothing compared to the rewards.
“It’s a lot of self satisfaction. It comes to seeing an animal come in and knowing it’s going to get a second chance,” he says. “Aside from helping the animals it’s nice to provide that service to the public as well.”
To get in touch with Alternative Wildlife Solutions email firstname.lastname@example.org.