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Club Adaptation of Guide to Ethical Wildlife Photography up for vote in June
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05-25-2016, 08:38 AM Chuck Summers
Hi All,

The board and officers recommend that the club adopt the following Guide to Ethical Wildlife Photography. We started this discussion at the April meeting and everyone felt that we needed to send it out to club members so that they could review it and vote on adopting it for the club at the June Club meeting. This does not mean that we will police each photo. If you enter a photo we are trusting that you followed these guidelines. At this point, the wording is not up for debate, the question is do we adopt these guidelines or not.

The primary reason behind making this statement is that certain subjects have been accused of being baited when they weren't. With this as a club guideline, if that question comes up again, we can state that we have guidelines about ethics regarding wildlife photography that include not baiting and, therefore the subject should be considered not baited.

We will vote on adopting this at the June Club meeting.

Thanks,
Chuck S
President MHWPC
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Mile High Wildlife Photo Club’s

Guide to Ethical Wildlife Photography


(Adapted from Audubon’s Guide to Ethical Bird Photography)



The first essential element in wildlife photography is a sincere respect for wildlife and its environment. In any conflict of interest, the well-being of wildlife and its habitat must come before the ambitions of the photographer. Here are some basic guidelines.



Avoid causing unnecessary disturbance or stress to wildlife.




  • Use a telephoto lens or a blind for close-up shots. If your approach causes wildlife to flush (fly or run away) or change its behavior, you’re too close.

  • Some wildlife may “freeze” in place rather than fleeing, or may hunch into a protective, aggressive, or pre-flight stance. Watch for changes in posture indicating that wildlife is stressed, and if you see these, back away.

  • Never advance on wildlife with the intention of making it flee.

  • Use flash sparingly (if at all), as a supplement to natural light. Avoid the use of flash on nocturnal animals at night, as it may temporarily limit their ability to hunt for food.

  • Before sharing locations of specific animals with other photographers or wildlife watchers, think carefully about potential impacts to the wildlife and its habitat.

  • Concern for wildlife habitat is also essential. Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid trampling sensitive vegetation or disturbing wildlife.



Nesting and denning animals are particularly vulnerable, and need special consideration.




  • Keep a respectful distance from nests and dens. If you’re using a macro lens or including the nest or den as a focal point in an image with a wide-angle lens, even if you’re operating the camera remotely, you’re probably too close.

  • Avoid flushing the adults or scaring the young, or doing anything to draw the attention of predators to a nest or den. For example, repeatedly walking to a nest or den can leave both a foot trail and scent trail for predators.

  • Do not move or remove anything around a nest or den, as it may be providing both essential camouflage and protection from the elements.



Luring wildlife closer for photography is often possible but should be done in a responsible way.




  • Bird feeding stations, whether or not they’re used for photography, should be kept clean, stocked only with appropriate food items, and positioned with the birds’ safety in mind.

  • Never lure hawks, owls or other predators with live bait, or with decoys such as artificial or dead mice. Baiting can change the behavior of predators in ways that are harmful for them.

  • Playback of bird voices or animal calls to lure wildlife close for photography should be used sparingly and not at all in the case of endangered species or animals at critical points in their reproductive cycles.



Show respect for private and public property, and consideration for other people.




  • Enter private land only with permission. On public property such as parks and refuges, be aware of local regulations, hours, and closed areas.

  • In group situations, be considerate of other photographers and wildlife watchers who may be observing the same animals. Remember that your desire to photograph wildlife doesn’t outweigh the rights of others to observe it. Remember also that large groups of people are potentially more disturbing to wildlife, so it may be necessary to keep a greater distance.

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