December 5, 2006 > Doctor Quack
by Helen Zou
At first glance, Dave Riensche appears to be an ordinary man. However, as soon as he starts talking about wildlife, his demeanor changes and he becomes his alter ego, Doctor Quack, passionate preserver of nature, and protector of wildlife.
"My mission as wildlife biologist, Doctor Quack, is to preserve the unique natural treasures of the precious, wild and free feathered friends, furry friends, and amphibian ambassadors," he says sincerely. "My job is to look at the 500 different types of fish and wildlife that you find in our East Bay parks and to maintain the balance between recreation and nature."
As organizer of the Wildlife Volunteer Program at East Bay Regional Parks, his volunteer program includes a vast array of projects. All are aimed to actively alleviate environmental and wildlife concerns that grow increasingly urgent in this growing urban society.
The Bay Area is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the nation with over 8 million people. Due to this growing human influence, wildlife and their habitats that depend on them for shelter, food, and basic necessities are in serious jeopardy.
"It's up to our generation to leave a legacy to cast what the future of wildlife will be in the next millennia," says Riensche.
His projects have significantly advanced wildlife preservation in the East Bay, helping a variety of species from California ground squirrels to Alameda wood snakes. His Covey Conservationist project re-established the previously extinct California Quail back into East Bay parks. Countless homes have been built for animals in need of a hand, like the Burrowing Owl and the tree swallow, which can eat up to 3,500 mosquitoes a day. Another successful major project was the building of a tern sanctuary on a small island. Through the course of five years, 165 tons of sand and oyster shells were put on this island for the terns to live.
Volunteers from ages 3 to 80 have helped accomplish every single one of these flourishing projects. It is this sense of community in taking responsibility for our co-existing wildlife that has made Doctor Quack's Wildlife Volunteer Program so successful.
However, he also wants to see further progress of future projects. "We want to do more. And we need people to come alongside us and help us do that. We need volunteers and we need funds to help us do this stuff," says Riensche earnestly. "My job is not only to be a scientist, but also to reach out to the public."
Aside from saving the environment, Riensche also teaches Biology at Los Positas Junior College. He holds a bachelor's degree in Biology, and two master's degrees in Environmental Education and Natural Resource Management. When asked about the origins of Doctor Quack, he said the name "stuck" 18 years ago because of his "fowl behavior."
To learn about upcoming projects, and how you can help Doctor Quack, visit Wildlife Volunteers at www.ebparks.org or call (510) 544-2320.