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Respect Wildlife In The Field

Respect Wildlife In The Field
Everyone loves those shots of wildlife.  The closer you can get to the animal, the better the shot usually is.  There is a fine line, however, between taking a wildlife photograph and disturbing the animals in their natural habitat.  Since lots of people seem to be blurring or crossing that line lately, it seems like a good time to refresh the rules.
Respecting wildlife means leaving the wild animals alone.  They don't like being messed with.  #outdoors #leavenotrace

Do Not Approach or Handle Wild Animals


You don't like to be approached or touched by strangers.  These wild animals want to be left alone too.  Many animals carry communicable diseases which you do not want to pick up such as rabies.  Others, such as certain snakes, carry venom which could kill you if not treated quickly.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality nature photograph of a wild Canadian goose spreading open its wings in Idaho Falls, Bonneville, Idaho
Not all wild animal encounters will be life-threatening.  Wild geese are very ferocious creatures when disturbed and will chase you down.
Also, many people have gotten the idea that some of the large mammals, like bison, are harmless and will try to get selfies of themselves petting these wild animals.  Many people have been gored and almost killed because the large animal is saying "leave me alone."  Sadly, those attacks are so forceful that human bones are broken and flesh is impaled.  This is with the animal NOT trying to kill you.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality nature photograph of four buffalo in a field with mountains in Swan Valley, Idaho
Every so often, someone gets the idea to mess with a wild buffalo in Yellowstone Park and pays for it dearly.  The immediate and natural punishment for the offending human is up to and including with their own life.
Wild animals are considered dangerous and unpredictable for a reason.  Do not tempt fate just to get a cool photo to impress people with.  The photo might not turn out anyways, but it certainly won't turn out well with you flying through the air with a hole gushing blood in your side thanks to an annoyed buffalo.

Do Not Disturb Animal Babies or Nests


You don't like the idea of people going in and messing with your children and doing things with them that you do not approve of.  You see a danger to your offspring there.  So do these animals.  They can't tell the difference between someone who just wants a cool photo and someone with far more sinister intentions.  There is a line between enjoying nature and wildlife and animals perceiving you as hunting their little ones.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality nature animal photograph of hungry baby robin birds in a nest in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho I used my telephoto lens for this shot of robin babies in the nest.  Despite my distance, I still had some extremely unhappy parents hanging around.  They made sure I knew it too.  I managed to not cross the line as they didn't attack me.  I knew I was dangerously close though.  As soon as I was done, I got out of there fast and let them be.
If you cross that line, you will find swift justice handed out by upset and ferocious parents.  You will deserve it too.  Maintain your respectful distance from any animal's young.  The larger mammals, such as bears, are the real concerns to look out for.  Displeased parents have the power to kill you when merely trying to ward you off.

Recently, some tourists got the idea that a baby bison was cold so they loaded it in their van.  The animal was not cold.  When park rangers tried to reunite the baby with its mother, the mother rejected it thanks to the smell of humans on it.  Because of this, the baby bison had to be put down.  It's not just your own life which can be on the line if you mess with the wild animals.

Keep You Pets Under Control


 Cramer Imaging's professional quality nature animal photograph of a grizzly bear leaning on a tree stump in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
This is the kind of animal which your dog should not be allowed to chase for obvious reasons.
If you have a dog, you probably like to take your pet with you when you go on an outing.  There is nothing that most dogs like more than taking an outdoor excursion with you.  The problem comes when you run into some wild animals with your beloved pet.

Most dogs were bred to be hunting dogs for some kind of quarry.  Smaller dogs often like to chase animals like foxes and other small prey.  Larger dogs want to chase larger targets like deer.  This is because they were bred to do just that.  Hunting makes them happy but so does pleasing their master.

Make sure to train your dog not to go chasing the wild animals or keep your pet on a leash.  If neither option will prevent your dog from harassing and chasing away the wildlife (perhaps permanently), then don't bring your dog with you.  You don't want to risk your dog's life if it annoys the wrong wild animal.

Hunt Appropriately


Hunting is a popular sport around this part of the country.  It helps keep the wild grazing animal populations in check so they don't all starve to death with nothing to eat thanks to their own overgrazing.  There are certain rules and regulations which must be followed when out hunting.

Make sure that you have your hunting license for the appropriate area along with a tag for the animal you intend to kill.  Make sure that you are only hunting during open season for that animal.  No hunting deer out of deer hunting season, for example.  Follow all local regulations for hunting such as not hunting near the roads or in areas closed for the year and make sure you pay attention to animal gender.  Females and young are often not permitted to be hunted.

Cramer Imaging's professionally photographed nature and animal picture of Mandarin duck swimming in water at Tautphaus Park Zoo, Idaho Falls, Bonneville, Idaho
You should not go out "hunting" duck and come back with a bear instead and without proper tags.  The seasons for bear and duck in Idaho really don't overlap much.
Don't decide to set up a long term camp near sources of food as you will drive all the animal populations away from the area and they might not return.  This will be a problem for hunting in future years.

Conclusion


Respecting wildlife in the field is a very important part of outdoor ethics.  In fact, it's one of the 7 points of Leave No Trace.  (Check out more about Leave No Trace in this article here.)  Of all the points discussed there, this particular point is probably the one which will save the most lives with the possible exception of proper fire-handling displacing it.  The life you save by leaving the wildlife alone could be your own.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and make sure that it is at a safe distance from the wild animals.