Talking Trees with Davey Tree

Cool Projects Arborists Do – Saving Cats & Setting Up Eagle Cams

March 30, 2023 The Davey Tree Expert Company Season 3 Episode 13
Cool Projects Arborists Do – Saving Cats & Setting Up Eagle Cams
Talking Trees with Davey Tree
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Talking Trees with Davey Tree
Cool Projects Arborists Do – Saving Cats & Setting Up Eagle Cams
Mar 30, 2023 Season 3 Episode 13
The Davey Tree Expert Company

Rob Kruljac from Davey’s north Pittsburgh office talks rescuing cats from trees, installing eagle cams and educating his clients.  

In this episode we cover:  

  • Rob’s cat rescuing (1:08) 
  • Climbing for cat rescue vs. climbing for work (3:08) 
  • How Rob gets cats out of tree (3:45)  
  • Setting up eagle cams (6:05) 
  • How Rob started installing eagle cams (7:55) 
  • The challenges of climbing for eagle cams (8:50)  
  • How Rob gets camera equipment into the tree and how it attaches to the tree (9:50)  
  • How Rob got started in the industry and with Davey (13:00) 
  • Rob’s relationships with his clients and the fun of education (14:34)  

 

To find your local Davey office, check out our find a local office page to search by zip code.  

To learn more about the importance of consulting a professional, read our blog, Benefits of Hiring A Professional Certified Arborist

Connect with Davey Tree on social media:
Twitter: @DaveyTree
Facebook: @DaveyTree
Instagram: @daveytree
YouTube: The Davey Tree Expert Company
LinkedIn: The Davey Tree Expert Company 

Connect with Doug Oster at www.dougoster.com

 
Have topics you'd like us to cover on the podcast? Email us at podcasts@davey.com. We want to hear from you!    

Show Notes Transcript

Rob Kruljac from Davey’s north Pittsburgh office talks rescuing cats from trees, installing eagle cams and educating his clients.  

In this episode we cover:  

  • Rob’s cat rescuing (1:08) 
  • Climbing for cat rescue vs. climbing for work (3:08) 
  • How Rob gets cats out of tree (3:45)  
  • Setting up eagle cams (6:05) 
  • How Rob started installing eagle cams (7:55) 
  • The challenges of climbing for eagle cams (8:50)  
  • How Rob gets camera equipment into the tree and how it attaches to the tree (9:50)  
  • How Rob got started in the industry and with Davey (13:00) 
  • Rob’s relationships with his clients and the fun of education (14:34)  

 

To find your local Davey office, check out our find a local office page to search by zip code.  

To learn more about the importance of consulting a professional, read our blog, Benefits of Hiring A Professional Certified Arborist

Connect with Davey Tree on social media:
Twitter: @DaveyTree
Facebook: @DaveyTree
Instagram: @daveytree
YouTube: The Davey Tree Expert Company
LinkedIn: The Davey Tree Expert Company 

Connect with Doug Oster at www.dougoster.com

 
Have topics you'd like us to cover on the podcast? Email us at podcasts@davey.com. We want to hear from you!    

Doug Oster: Welcome to the Davey Tree Expert Company's Podcast; Talking Trees. I'm your host, Doug Oster. Each week, our expert arborists, share advice on seasonal tree care, how to make your trees thrive, arborists favorite trees, and much, much more. Tune in every Thursday to learn more, because here at The Talking Trees podcast, we know trees are the answer.

Well, it's another first for the Talking Trees Podcast, instead of recording from my high-tech studio next door, which just means my messy office, I'm actually live with an arborist sitting at my dining room table. My friend, Rob Kruljac, an assistant district manager for the North Pittsburgh office of the Davey Tree Expert Companies joining me.

Rob and I have worked together for a long time. We work together on a local radio show here. We have a television show sponsored by Davey that we work on. I want to talk to you about today about some of the things you do outside of Davey, but using your Davey skills. I wanted to talk about you installing these eagle cams, but then I turned on the news the other day and you saved a cat out of a tree. Tell me about that.

Rob Kruljac: Well, I've been rescuing cats for quite a number of years, a tree climbing champion, Dan Kraus in the Pacific Northwest Chapter started a website years ago, Cat in the Tree Rescue Service. Me and our best friends of mine, we joined it when he opened that up because we looked up to this guy and I did it for man, 15, 20 years. Just recently stepped back from it but when I got this call last week or earlier this week, I had to go and try to help out.

Doug: The fire department tried, they couldn't do it, right?

Rob: Correct.

Doug: Who calls you? Who tells you like, "Hey, there's a cat and a tree, and why doesn't the cat just crawl down from the tree?"

Rob: I don’t know the answer to that one. I've rescued the same cat on more than one occasion.

Doug: Are you serious?

Rob: Oh, I'm serious, you only get two chance. The third one, we figure something.

Doug: I don't know if I want to know what the other thing is. [laughter]

Rob: The other alternative. It was actually quite rare for the fire department to spend time and resources on something like this. Those maybe from stories or days gone by of the fire cat out of the tree. Yes, I've been involved with cat rescues UAV rescues, Cockatoo one night. The things that get stuck in trees, if you have a someone that knows how to climb and not use spikes when you're doing it. You're not injuring the tree. It comes in handy.

Doug: This particular cat is up there for a week or something, is that right?

Rob: Sounds like, yes.

Doug: Oh boy.

Rob: I think they called us on Wednesday evening like right at the end of the day but apparently it was up, I heard Thursday or Tuesday the week before that they noticed it up there.

Doug: Is climbing up a tree to save something like a cat, is that the same as climbing up a tree to make a cut? Or is this something completely different in the style of climbing that you're doing?

Rob: A little bit different in the sense that you're going to go a lot slower. You're going to try to position yourself for the end goal, which is getting the rescue to the ground, whether it's a person or an animal. You want to set everything up. Once you reach the patient or whatever, that you can come straight down without having to pull or move things around unnecessarily.

Doug: How do you get the cat to come to you instead of continuing to climb up the tree? Or what if it does start climbing up the tree?

Rob: There's been several that, yes, you have to, I won't say chase, but they keep going out to the end and the end of the branches.

Doug: Oh my gosh.

Rob: The best-case scenario is having them come to you. This was a textbook kind of rescue in the sense that I got up there, I just rested, I talked to the cat, it got it comfortable, got it responding to me, with the meow sounds, "Hey, meow, how you doing?" Which told me that it was not going to be aggressive. I just kept inching closer and closer until the point where I could extend a hand and get a touch, and start making a relationship. In this instance, it actually came to me and made it really easy.

Doug: Are you telling me you're like Dr. Dolittle and talk to the animals?

Rob: I wouldn't go that far because they don't all go like this. If it's not as smooth of a transition, you getting the cat by the scruff of the neck in one hand, [crosstalk] and bring it down to the ground is usually the way thing, and you still do it with this one, but there was no resistance. The longer they're up there, they seem to be more willing to take a chance.

Doug: Are there people on the ground cheering you on and such, or they're not there, or what's it like?

Rob: Typically, with all of them, it's the owner, maybe a friend or two, but yes, there's no crowds or anything. Even with this last one, it was just the people involved but I've had one cat decide to leave the tree without me, and since then, I usually, or I do, I recommend that, hey, can we get a sheet? Can we get two people here to do the old firemen jump out the window into the sheet thing? We had that support on the ground, but didn't need it in this instance.

Doug: Do you feel more pressure when there's a TV news crew there?

Rob: Oh, absolutely, but still just focusing more on the job than any distractions.

Doug: Well, certainly safety is the number one thing when you're climbing a tree, whether you're cutting a branch or you're saving a cat, but another thing that I know that you do is set-up these cameras to watch an eagle in its nest. Is that right?

Rob: Yes. If you may have gone on the Hayes eagle cam brought to you by the Audubon Society. I started this in like 2016, I think. I looked back in some pictures actually to prepare for this, but yes, 2016, Eagle Nest in Hermaville, I helped to reinstall. From then, yes, I've been doing work for the Audubon Society, as well as the US Steel plant down at the Irwin Works. Yes, it's been quite an honor and a privilege to be able to have the skills and the ability to do something like this, and to experience a view in an area that most people would never be able to.

Doug: Here in the Pittsburgh area, I would have to say that what they call the haze camera is the most famous, it's right along the river. First off, for someone my age, we thought bald eagles were going to be extinct, and to actually be able to see it, everybody watches this camp. To see the eggs being laid and the mother fighting off a raccoon or under a foot of snow, it gives you an inside look into a type of wildlife that you would never normally see.

Rob: Yes, it's an amazing world that the people with the cameras, and as we work as a team, are able to provide and yes, it is popular. A lot of people I speak to are like, "Oh, man, yes, I watch that all the time." It's a popular thing to do.

Doug: Why you, for this job? How did they hook up with you that they just know you happened to climb? Or did they get you through the cat rescue people, or how did they find you?

Rob: Through Davey, we were doing a lot of work at Beachwood Farms, which is in Dorseyville or border of Fox Chapel on Dorseyville Road, let's say and--

Doug: Which is an Audubon site.

Rob: Correct. Yes. The gentleman I worked for there approached me and said, "Hey, Rob we got this situation, we got this camera, would you be able to maybe come out and help with it?" I said, "Absolutely." We went and did the first one, and then we started talking and I said, "Well, why do you have the camera over here and you don't have it way up there in the top of this giant tree?" He's like, "You can do that?" I said, "Yes, of course. Where do you want it?" That's how we formed the relationship and started working on these things.

Doug: From a technical point of view, first tell me, when you're looking up at the tree, how do you know that you can get up there?

Rob: These sites are always challenging. They're usually on a cliff side, very tall tree. It's not a park setting. It's not a residential setting that there's underbrush, there's other understory trees that you have to work with or work around to be able to get a line set, and then ascend into the tree. They are a challenging climb every time. Then usually we're doing it in towards the end of the winter before January [crosstalk].

Doug: Before the eagles get there, right?

Rob: Correct. Yes, we got to stay away. There's a deadline, I believe, that I've heard for our permit or for the permit, they have something like that, but yes, so it's usually not the best time of year. Then the sites are always challenging. We're using ropes to get down to the tree, ropes to get back up on the cliff to the top again.

Doug: When you're climbing to the top of the tree, are you carrying the camera or you hoist it up later? How does that work?

Rob: Yes, I typically, I ascend the tree first and then I set-up another line or rigging line that I use to hoist the camera equipment up into the tree, lower. Sometimes we switch cameras out that have gone-- They've stopped working. We lower that down and then we use the rigging to pull the new one up. Then on the way down, I attach the cables running to the camera. I secure them to the tree to be able to prevent the wind or branches from pulling it off the camera or causing us any interruptions in the feed.

Doug: How does the camera attach to the tree?

Rob: The camera part of the team has a bracket that he's developed. It's aluminum plate with the camera mounted to it, and it basically ratchet straps are used to secure it to the tree.

Doug: How heavy is the camera? Is it lightweight?

Rob: It is pretty lightweight.

Doug: Okay.

Rob: The weight of the cables hanging from it is probably more than the camera itself.

Doug: It's hardwired down the tree to some kind of control station or something?

Rob: Yes. We have a bank of batteries hooked up to solar panels to keep it charged and running. It's the US Steel site, they were able to tie into some power along the property there to get power to that setup.

Doug: When you say US Steel site, is that a building or is that a tree where they're--

Rob: It's the Irwin Steel plant.

Doug: There's a place at eagle's nest there?

Rob: Yes, there is.

Doug: On the plant?

Rob: Yes.

Doug: Wow.

Rob: Overlooking the river, again. One constant in these nests seems to be your proximity to water, and a clean water source apparently, where they feel they can get fish out of the waterway.

Doug: What's that one like? Is there climbing involved in that, or is that on a scaffold? How do--

Rob: Oh, no, it's on a tree.

Doug: Okay.

Rob: It's in a tree. On a cliff side overlooking the river on the backside. The property is enormous. I forget how many acres they have in total.

Doug: Oh, I see. It's a big plant property-

Rob: Correct.

Doug: -with a tree. I get it.

Rob: Yes.

Doug: Okay. What is it like for you to hear about-- Everyone talks about the different eagle cams, especially in our area, the Hays camera. What is it like for you when you hear somebody talking like, "Oh, did you see the--" Or it says-- Maybe on the news, like, "Here's a view from the Hays camera. Look, another egg."

Rob: I prefer and try to be humble, but I'm still proud at the same time to be able to be a part of something like that.

Doug: I've only interviewed an arborist one other time live, and that was at a trade show. Never after work you smell like a chainsaw. [chuckles]

Rob: I take that as a compliment, Doug. [laughter] That means I must have done something today.

Doug: Tell me a little bit about how you got into this job with Davey, and why it's right for you.

Rob: Oh, boy. Let's start. I'll tell you how I got into to the industry at the beginning. I was 15 years old. My father was working for the University of Pittsburgh. I was looking to get a summer job, and he had a local tree company come out to our property at home to do some work. He said, "Hey, Rob, maybe you should check this out. Watch what they do. It might be something you'd be interested in."

I was already outdoorsy at the time with rock climbing and hiking, and such. I watched these guys come out and they throw a rope up over this huge limb up in a big oak tree in our backyard. He pulls himself up in there and he's cutting these branches off. I go, "Oh, yes, you know what? I think I could get into something like this." I got in, like I said, 15. It was pretty much a favor when you're that young, but yes, my mom would drop me off with my little lunch pail and my water jug. Here I am with these burly old tree guys, 15 going through and learning the ropes as it were.

I worked for that company throughout high school. Graduated, moved out to Jackson, Wyoming for a few months. Came back, started at Pitt. Worked for another company through college. When I graduated, I basically had a diploma in one hand and a chainsaw in the other, and it seemed way easier to keep doing what I was good at than make up a resume and go on job interviews. That's how I started my own company. About 17 years later, I sold it to Davey, and now I'm an arborist with Davey Tree.

Doug: Tell me a little bit about your relationship with your clients. I always like to ask arborists this, and you and I have talked about this at length. Because when we're working for the TV show, we're working at my property. I become a client and I learn so much. A big part of what you're doing, seeing this firsthand, is educating the consumer. I'm one of those consumers. Talk about that relationship with the client and educating them.

Rob: Educating the client is super, super important. That's why anytime we can get to a face-to-face appointment where you're on site with the potential client or the term client, that you can explain to them why you're recommending something or prescribing something. It really helps to show them what you're doing. Then you hope that they share it with the public to hire ISA certified arborists, who are really the leaders, the professionals in the industry to help with their tree care needs.

Doug: Speaking of education, we actually had a fun time, the two of us. We were at our local home and garden show. I speak there every day, and I talked to Rob about this in advance. I said, "Could you do some kind of presentation for trees?" He is like, "Yes." Not only did we do a presentation-- There's no dirt. He showed how to-- He built this thing to show how you can plant a tree.

I'm thinking, "Okay, yes, I'll get that stuff on the convention center." I'm thinking the tree is a sapling, three foot tall. He's getting me this tree, it's a 100 pounds. I got to get it down to the convention center, sneak it into the convention center because you're not supposed to take stuff in and out. Well, we got it in there and put on the show. People loved it. Talk about the fun of that. That's another type of what you're doing for educating the consumer.

Rob: The box demonstration platform came to me in a dream, and to see it come to fruition was really exciting. We didn't talk much before the event. I don't know that you knew what you were getting yourself into.

Doug: I never do. [laughter]

Rob: It worked out really well. The audience, I think you know that a couple of them came up to us and talked to us afterwards. The big takeaway, which it was exactly my point of this presentation, was to show them how important it is to plant your tree at the right depth. The only way to succeed in doing that is by-- Before you even dig the hole, is taking the burlap off the top, taking the twine off the top, and then gently excavating the soil away until you find where the tree actually turns into the root system.

That is the spot you want to keep slightly above grade, a few inches. My demonstration box seemed to project that to the audience pretty well. I think I'm going to be using it again in the future.

Doug: When we start shooting Season 2 of the TV show, sponsored by Davey Tree, we're going to use that same box. Even though we have dirt out here, but it just-- I guess it's hard for me to explain without having pictures, but it just shows you exactly how to plant a tree the right way. We'll do that for video, and I'll let everybody that listens to the podcast know about that. Before I let you go, since you happen to be on property, how about before you leave, you show me how to prune that crab apple out there. [chuckles]

Rob: I can certainly do that.

Doug: Rob, thanks so much. Appreciate you coming by, and the smell of oil and chainsaw, what'd you call that?

Rob: Man cologne.

Doug: Man cologne. Okay. Thanks again, buddy. We'll talk to you soon.

Rob: Anytime.

Doug: That was a lot of fun for sure. Tune in every Thursday to The Talking Trees Podcast. From the Davey Tree Expert Company, I am your host, Doug Oster. Do me a big favor, subscribe to the podcast so you'll never miss one of our fun shows. Next week, it's the return of Zane Raudenbush, Davey's turf specialist. He's a wealth of information about getting the lawn growing strong, and we always learn a lot from him.

Have an idea for the show or a comment? Send me an email to podcasts@davey.com. That's P-O-D-C-A-S-T-S@D-A-V-E-Y.com. We're getting lots of great ideas there. As always, we'd like to remind you on The Talking Trees Podcast, trees are the answer.

[00:19:07] [END OF AUDIO]