Ethics of a photograph containing a baited animal

Orangutan

EOR R
Sep 25, 2010
2,140
3
CanonFanBoy said:
Orangutan said:
I re-read, and you are correct. That was not ethical, regardless of his professional training.
"Follow your own conscience."
Really? Don't we grow out of that fantasy as we reach adulthood, and begin to realize that there are other people who know vastly more than we do on a particular topic? Also, the human conscience is susceptible to motivated reasoning.


Those birds have a healthy population thanks to man's activity in the area.
Perhaps so, but it sets a bad example for others who think they can follow their own conscience in other circumstances.
 

dabsond

I'm New Here
Jan 9, 2015
9
0
Personally, I would say it is not ethical. If the eagles were not baited you would probably have never gotten that close or known exact location where they would be. I do spend a lot of time trying to get great bird photos but, I would not bait any wild animal for the shot.
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
8,064
636
Orangutan said:
AlanF said:
The OP asked whether it is ethical from the photographic point of view not conservation.
To me they are connected.
+1. This is a thorny, multidimensional consideration. I started thinking of a Venn diagram with [Photography Ethics and Reputation] / [Nature Conservation] / [Don't be a Crappy Example for Others] to make my point, but I'd imagine we'd all populate it a bit differently.

But if this is just a [Photography Ethics and Reputation] question w.r.t. your portfolio -- if you really just want that aspect addressed devoid of connectivity to the other considerations above -- why not just be fully transparent with your methods? If your portfolio has a photo-gallery-like museum description, just state what you did to get each shot. That seems honest to me.

To not do that, to arbitrarily find the strictest bar out there on the internet and hold yourself to that (possibly absurd) standard may have you throw out wonderful work all for a sense of pride of doing it the hard way. Why not keep all your work and just be upfront about how you collected it? You still can post your legit 'I saw something happen without any help' work in those stricter forums if you like.

Just riffing here. I'm no wildlifer, but it would appear that only being able to be a legit wildlifer is if you stick to some Jedi code of strictness seems a bit harsh and exclusive. There is a middle ground and you shouldn't be afraid to tread there if you do so responsibly.

- A
 

unfocused

EOS 1D MK II
Jul 20, 2010
5,138
1,617
66
Springfield, IL
www.mgordoncommunications.com
While this has gone off the rails a bit, it has actually turned into an interesting discussion prompting some self-examination.

The original post raised questions for me about the ethics of the tour operator. Questions that can't be answered without knowing the specific situation – are they qualified/licensed by a regulatory agency that has reviewed their practices.

The fact that the tour operator could throw out a random fish and the eagles would immediately come get it, certainly sounds like this isn't a one-off situation, but rather that they have trained the eagles to expect to be fed.

I found this on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service site: "Do not intentionally feed bald eagles. Artificially feeding bald eagles can disrupt their essential behavioral patterns and put them at increased risk from power lines, collision with windows and cars, and other mortality factors."

It doesn't say it is illegal, but it certainly sounds marginal at best.

To me, the moral dilemma is not whether or not to use the picture, but rather, whether or not you should contract with a tour operator or guide that is unethical. I'm not saying the OP knew beforehand that the tour guide was going to bait the birds, I'm simply saying that now that he knows that, he should not use the tour operator in the future. Whether or not you use the picture in your portfolio will have no impact on the safety and viability of the eagles, but refusing to use the tour operator and encouraging others to avoid that operator would be beneficial to the birds.

To get back to the overall discussion: most people who photograph nature and wildlife are coming from a good place -- we find the animals fascinating and feel an emotional and spiritual attachment to the natural world. For many of us, nature is our religion.

I get where Orangutan is coming from, although I don't have quite the blind faith in scientists that he does.

I think it comes down to the doctor's oath: "First, do no harm."

Many would say that any intrusion on the natural world does harm, so I guess a better motto might be, "minimize the harm and keep it transitory, rather than permanent."

I can be forgiving of the photographer taking pictures of eagles in that remote area of Alaska.

It reminds me a bit of my own experience with Great Blue Herons. Here in the Midwest the herons tend to be quite skittish. On the other hand, I've been to Gulf Shores and seen herons hanging out on the beach, standing on coolers and beach chairs. They are fairly indifferent to humans.

The point being that natural behavior can be situational and we need to take that into consideration as well. The Alaska eagles are already accustomed to being fed by the local fishermen and his baiting is not going to have any impact whatsoever on their behavior. Once the photographer is gone, the eagles will continue to return to that site and continue to eat fish provided by the local fishermen. No harm. No foul.
 

Orangutan

EOR R
Sep 25, 2010
2,140
3
unfocused said:
I get where Orangutan is coming from, although I don't have quite the blind faith in scientists that he does.
I assume you meant this as a figure of speech, but just FYI: I have no blind faith in anything. Science is not a matter of faith at all, it's our current best effort to overcome our very imperfect reasoning. Science is far from perfect, but it gets us much closer to the truth than putting forth our personal whims as if they have magical validity.

I think it comes down to the doctor's oath: "First, do no harm." Many would say that any intrusion on the natural world does harm, so I guess a better motto might be, "minimize the harm and keep it transitory, rather than permanent."
+5
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
8,064
636
Orangutan said:
unfocused said:
I think it comes down to the doctor's oath: "First, do no harm." Many would say that any intrusion on the natural world does harm, so I guess a better motto might be, "minimize the harm and keep it transitory, rather than permanent."
+5
So sayeth we as we overpopulate the planet, exacerbating every single problem we have (regardless of our thoughtful and well-intentioned approach to wildlife photography). That's a permanent harm in my book.

I'm not implying that in light of that fact we should all gleefully go on irresponsible BIF escapades where we indiscriminately throwing buckets of chum overboard or anything like that. But let's not flog ourselves over the small and responsible 'touching of nature' we do in our hiking/camping/photography/etc. -- we'd only be out there if we wanted to experience and appreciate it.

In other words, for all our evils done to nature, the transgressions of wildlife photographers are quite low on the list.

I just think we need responsibility and balance in our decisions. I think (by and large) we do that as photographers.

- A
 

Ryananthony

EOS 7D MK II
Nov 7, 2015
498
2
Where I live, we have a large number of eagles migrate down during the winter months. A very popular place for them to reside is about half a mile from a compost facility, and about a mile from a dump. Every single year. They reside here for the obvious reason that food is easily come by from both the compost and the dump. Like clockwork around 3pm the eagles fly over head from park where they nest to the compost site as the trucks drop off their loads. The eagles grab their treats and fly back to the nests. You often see them challenge each other for food in the air and it is a known spot for the millions of people who reside here. (who carry an interest at least). Like every animal. Eagles are opportunistic, and will take advantage. These eagles come here every year, and stay for months. These facilities know they are "baiting" the eagles every year.
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,980
3,649
ahsanford said:
Orangutan said:
AlanF said:
The OP asked whether it is ethical from the photographic point of view not conservation.
To me they are connected.
+1. This is a thorny, multidimensional consideration. I started thinking of a Venn diagram with [Photography Ethics and Reputation] / [Nature Conservation] / [Don't be a Crappy Example for Others] to make my point, but I'd imagine we'd all populate it a bit differently.

But if this is just a [Photography Ethics and Reputation] question w.r.t. your portfolio -- if you really just want that aspect addressed devoid of connectivity to the other considerations above -- why not just be fully transparent with your methods? If your portfolio has a photo-gallery-like museum description, just state what you did to get each shot. That seems honest to me.

To not do that, to arbitrarily find the strictest bar out there on the internet and hold yourself to that (possibly absurd) standard may have you throw out wonderful work all for a sense of pride of doing it the hard way. Why not keep all your work and just be upfront about how you collected it? You still can post your legit 'I saw something happen without any help' work in those stricter forums if you like.

Just riffing here. I'm no wildlifer, but it would appear that only being able to be a legit wildlifer is if you stick to some Jedi code of strictness seems a bit harsh and exclusive. There is a middle ground and you shouldn't be afraid to tread there if you do so responsibly.

- A
Venn was one of our locals - here is the stained glass window commemorating him.
The great thing about ethics, as opposed to the laws of physics, is that everyone can have their own opinions and can BS to their hearts content. Mind you, there are some who do the same for physics.
 

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YuengLinger

EOS 5D MK IV
Dec 20, 2012
2,739
891
Southeastern USA
Massive confusion here. Human beings are every bit as much a part of "Nature" as a polar bear or a butterfly. Those who say otherwise believe we are aliens constructed by other aliens and dropped here as an invasive species.

Any animal has the potential to mess up its local habitat. Homo sapiens simply tends to do it more often and on a larger scale. But we are not separate from nature!
 

Orangutan

EOR R
Sep 25, 2010
2,140
3
YuengLinger said:
Human beings are every bit as much a part of "Nature" as a polar bear or a butterfly. Those who say otherwise
I don't believe anyone was making that assertion.
 

CanonFanBoy

EOS 5D SR
Jan 28, 2015
4,327
1,936
Irving, Texas
Orangutan said:
CanonFanBoy said:
Orangutan said:
I re-read, and you are correct. That was not ethical, regardless of his professional training.
"Follow your own conscience."
Really? Don't we grow out of that fantasy as we reach adulthood, and begin to realize that there are other people who know vastly more than we do on a particular topic? Also, the human conscience is susceptible to motivated reasoning.


Those birds have a healthy population thanks to man's activity in the area.
Perhaps so, but it sets a bad example for others who think they can follow their own conscience in other circumstances.
So good to know I have the conscience of others to rely on as mine must be childish and flawed. Now if I could just find the right one to rely upon. Yours? ::) The OP followed his conscience and made the right decision for him.

Nobody is going to walk in lock step with you on everything. Classing those who do not along with "scoundrels" from history makes you closed minded as heck. I have no problem with what you believe. It works for you. Have at it. You should not feel threatened by disagreement. Without disagreement, there would be no science. There wouldn't be any without imagination or fantasy either. Today's realities in science are yesterday's fantasies and imaginings.
 

Orangutan

EOR R
Sep 25, 2010
2,140
3
CanonFanBoy said:
Nobody is going to walk in lock step with you on everything.
I said nothing of the kind, read my posts. I said you should refer to experts to help make the call, rather than rely on flawed personal experience. The same goes for me.

Classing those who do not along with "scoundrels" from history
I did not classify anyone that way, I simply pointed out that it's easy to talk ourselves into believing our personal needs justify potential harm to others.

You should not feel threatened by disagreement. Without disagreement, there would be no science.
I don't, and true. The trouble is that you offered no real discussion, only the pablum of "follow your conscience."

There wouldn't be any without imagination or fantasy either. Today's realities in science are yesterday's fantasies and imaginings.
Very true! How does that relate to the question?

Again, my point is simple: non-specialists simply do not have the expertise to judge how our actions affect wild animals. It's not an insult or disparagement, just a fact, and it applies to me as well. Scientists who study specific species or ecosystems full-time for 10+ years know more than we do, and we should defer to their judgement. I agree you should not take my word on which species can be baited without harm, ask an expert! I avoid the problem by assuming that I shouldn't -- about all I do is hang up a few bird feeders in my urban yard. I'm also careful not to play bird calls during the nesting season.

When you consider baiting a wild animal for a photo, ask yourself how it benefits and harms the animal. Then ask an expert for their opinion.
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,197
1,148
Alberta, Canada
This has gone from informative to entertaining! :) ;D I read CR for the humour.

BTW, the woodpecker you see under my name was baited rewarded for posing ... there, my conscience is clear! ;)

Jack
 

CanonFanBoy

EOS 5D SR
Jan 28, 2015
4,327
1,936
Irving, Texas
Orangutan said:
CanonFanBoy said:
Nobody is going to walk in lock step with you on everything.
I said nothing of the kind, read my posts. I said you should refer to experts to help make the call, rather than rely on flawed personal experience. The same goes for me.

Classing those who do not along with "scoundrels" from history
I did not classify anyone that way, I simply pointed out that it's easy to talk ourselves into believing our personal needs justify potential harm to others.

You should not feel threatened by disagreement. Without disagreement, there would be no science.
I don't, and true. The trouble is that you offered no real discussion, only the pablum of "follow your conscience."

There wouldn't be any without imagination or fantasy either. Today's realities in science are yesterday's fantasies and imaginings.
Very true! How does that relate to the question?

Again, my point is simple: non-specialists simply do not have the expertise to judge how our actions affect wild animals. It's not an insult or disparagement, just a fact, and it applies to me as well. Scientists who study specific species or ecosystems full-time for 10+ years know more than we do, and we should defer to their judgement. I agree you should not take my word on which species can be baited without harm, ask an expert! I avoid the problem by assuming that I shouldn't -- about all I do is hang up a few bird feeders in my urban yard. I'm also careful not to play bird calls during the nesting season.

When you consider baiting a wild animal for a photo, ask yourself how it benefits and harms the animal. Then ask an expert for their opinion.
Actually, you should read your posts. You did exactly those things. Experts and scientists are also wrong many times because of what you call motivated reasoning (grants, a paycheck, a position, public and colleague admiration, status, ego, etc.). Science and conscience should go hand in hand. Just ask the concentration camp "docs"/"scientists". Wait, conscience didn't exist for them.

Conscience isn't fantasy. Hopefully nobody grows out of it when reaching adulthood.
 

ahsanford

Particular Member
Aug 16, 2012
8,064
636
CanonFanBoy said:
Science and conscience should go hand in hand. Just ask the concentration camp "docs"/"scientists". Wait, conscience didn't exist for them.
Next stop on this thread: Godwin's Law

(Fully hear your point, but please find another metaphor, thank you.)

- A
 

Jack Douglas

CR for the Humour
Apr 10, 2013
6,197
1,148
Alberta, Canada
CanonFanBoy, I tend to agree with you that a healthy skepticism is needed regarding experts but there needs to be very solid evidence that prompts that approach. Often an expert in a given field becomes a spokesperson for unrelated fields and their PhD is held up as being meaningful. It isn't, other than perhaps being indicative of mental ability. And then there is the politics - ugh. How many so called experts lack what is called "common sense".

These days getting the "truth" is increasingly difficult. :(

Jack
 

Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
8,232
1,843
Canada
Jack Douglas said:
This has gone from informative to entertaining! :) ;D I read CR for the humour.

BTW, the woodpecker you see under my name was baited rewarded for posing ... there, my conscience is clear! ;)

Jack
And the animal you see under my name was baited rewarded for posing ... there, my conscience is also clear
 

Mikehit

EOS 5D MK IV
Jul 28, 2015
3,253
454
Graphic.Artifacts said:
However, the basic fact is that anyone who thinks that they can photograph wildlife without exploiting it in some way is living in a fantasy world.
And so started the photographer-macaque copyright case...
 

snoke

EOS RP
Jul 20, 2017
285
27
Orangutan said:
snoke said:
kirispupis said:
So far, my belief is that this photo, should never go into my portfolio because the animal was baited.
Like model situation. Man made construct. Many portfolio with model picture.
100% wrong. Human models are able to decide for themselves whether the modeling contract is a fair bargain, wild animals are not.
No difference. Bird not dive for fish if small like sardine. Model not agree for $1. Only difference you think animal not smart, yes? You not understand how smart animal.

And your name orangutan. What you think of this animal, smart or not smart?