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| p.2 #5 · Birders vs Photographers |
I've been told, if done in moderation, it's not harmful.
That is, perhaps, the most important point of my previous post.
What an individual photographer does may not have a negative impact on the bird/animal, but, when an owl or other creature has been baited daily for weeks by dozens/hundreds of individuals and when the situation is such that, when the owl sees a car pulling up, it immediately flies to a perch as close as it can find to that car and waits for the bait to be offered, it becomes difficult to understand how one could rationalize and conclude that the cummulative effect of all the photographers is not influencing the behavior of that owl and causing it to behave in a way different from what is natural. And, with the internet being what it is, there is a virtual guarantee that unusual wildlife sightings are going to attract large numbers of photographers and lead to such a cumulative effect caused by what they do.
Years ago, I decided that I wanted my approach toward wildlife photography to be one in which my goal was to have the subjects behave in the same manner that they would behave had I not been there. For as much as I enjoy watching and photographing wildlife, I try to be mindful that the wildlife is not there and is not doing what it is doing for the purpose of providing me with pleasure. Everything that wildlife does, in reality, is a part of a constant and continued struggle for survival, and, if my behavior causes the subject to behave in a manner different from what it would be doing naturally, I'm not willing to take the chance, even if it is only a small possibility, that what I have done is decreasing the subject's chances of survival. Even if my behavior cannot be proved with certainty to be harmful to the subject, my choice is to error on the side of caution, and I can live with not getting the picture.