Baiting

I wanted to follow up on my last post with a quote from an interview between Darwin Wiggett and John E. Marriott (two of my absolute favorite nature and wildlife photographers). I know that baiting animals in the wild is wrong and I was warned about doing it when I was in Calgary – in all honesty, I wasn’t the one who baited the Pygmy Owl in Fish Creek Park (I hadn’t even considered going to the store, buying a mouse and expecting to attract an Owl with it – I really had no idea that was even possible until I came across a group of guys who were already prepared for the sighting of an Owl that day). Anyway, I did participate in it and hadn’t really considered the full consequences of baiting until quite recently… when I read the following lines in an interview with John Marriott on Darwin’s blog:

“As for baiting and the use of flash, I feel that the challenge of getting an image without trying to control the animal’s behaviour or the lighting is worth the extra time and effort I may have to put in to get a good shot.  Again, it comes down to having an animal act naturally and showing some respect for your subject.

If you’re using a flash, you are almost always disturbing the animal to some degree.  Imagine having someone follow you around all day with a camera and flash.  Of course you’re going to start noticing the flash going off, and of course it’s going to alter how you behave, whether consciously or subconsciously.

Baiting is even more egregious.  You’re basically saying, “My need to get this shot is more important than the well-being of my subject.”  You’ve helped to condition an animal to an unnatural food source without thinking of the consequences. The next person to throw bait out for that wolf or bear may want to shoot it with a gun.  And the owl you just fed so you could get shots of it swooping down to pick up the lab mouse has just been conditioned to look to humans for food.  Worse yet, it might now survive the winter when it wasn’t supposed to, leaving its weaker genes in the population and throwing off the process of natural selection.”

John’s website:  http://www.wildernessprints.com

Darwin’s website:  http://www.darwinwiggett.com