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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Wildlife Photography and Ethics



If you have been a serious wildlife photographer for a reasonable length of time you have no doubt run into someone who has called into question your ethics. I don't say this because wildlife photographers are inherently unethical but because there are very passionate people in the wildlife and nature conservation communities. If people have opposing views on what may be ethical and what is not, it can sometimes lead to confrontation.

If your new to this or haven't experienced it, you might be wondering what types of things can lead to this confrontation? It could be something important such as getting too close to wildlife and people not wanting the animals to be unnecessarily stressed. Or something as inconsequential as using bird feeders as "bait" to attract song birds to photograph. Or perhaps moving or covering up some of the feeders to concentrate the birds to one or two perches near the active feeders. My examples may seem absurd and common sense but believe me your actions can sometimes easily offend others.

So where do I stand on the issue? I say try your hardest to keep your environmental impact to a minimum. But enjoy the outdoors! Always clean up after yourself at any site where you photograph, camp or otherwise use. Remember that we are on the same team, there is no need for petty bickering between conservationists. If you see something that you deem is unethical behavior then have an adult conversation with them about your concerns and educate them. Or, contact your local police or department of natural resources.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to remind everybody that no matter where you stand on the issues of ethics regarding wildlife and nature. Remember as lovers of wildlife and nature we are all on the same team. We share the same passion in different ways, some as observers, some as art collectors, some as painters or artists and some as photographers.