Wildlife Photography – Safety and Ethics


Safety/ethics

– Don’t corner an animal or block its path.

Ram-38149web
Watched me for a moment and even approach me closer but decided I was not threat and resumed eating. Good sign that you are not stressing an animal.

– With animals, be aware of signs of agitation or aggression: scrapping ground with hoof, thrashing grass or bushes with antlers, strong stare, ears back, showing whites of the eyes, bluff charge, growl, bearing teeth, etc. If approached by a predator, don’t run and appear as prey. Make your self appear large and slowly retreat.

Saw when returning to car from hike. I paused of a second and she did a bluff charge. I immediately returned to my car. Grabbed by long lens and got photos from the car.
Saw when returning to car from hike. I paused of a second and she did a bluff charge. I immediately returned to my car. Grabbed by long lens and got photos from the car.

– Just because an animal is in a national park or refuge, don’t assume it is not dangerous.

– Animals with young are the most dangerous.

Guanaco. If they run at you with their head down, you are definitely in danger. They will spit, kick, and
Guanaco. If they run at you with their head down, you are definitely in danger. They will spit, kick, and “chest but’.

– Be careful not to slip and fall on wet grass, leaves, seaweed, moss or muddy surfaces.

– Be careful crossing muddy surfaces. You can slip, fall, or worse yet, get stuck in the soft mud. Some muds are like quick sand.

On slippery seaweed. Difficult to cross rocks without falling.
On slippery seaweed. Difficult to cross rocks without falling.

– Take care near cliff ledges. The support beneath them can be undermined and the ledge may break away.

Red-legged cormorants on cliff in Argentina. Much prettier than ours. Laid on belly on a secure part of the cliff to get shot.
Red-legged cormorants on cliff in Argentina. Much prettier than ours. Laid on belly on a secure part of the cliff to get shot.

– Be aware of the incoming tide and rising surf. You may become stranded.

– When hiking, be careful of tripping hazards: rocks, branches, roots, etc. Wear boots with good ankle support and gripping soles.

– When walking avoid stepping into hidden holes – groundhog, badger, penguin, fox, moss-covered spaces between rocks, etc.

Could have been very aggressive but was not as long as i moved slowly and did not corner him. Seems comfortable with easy access to its burrow..
Could have been very aggressive but was not as long as i moved slowly and did not corner him. Seems comfortable with easy access to its burrow..

– When navigating through marsh, be aware that high grasses, soft mud, and changing water level may make navigation confusing and make it difficult to return to your origin.

– Let someone reliable know where you are going and when you plan to return.

– Don’t feed wild animals. It can result in their expecting food or bitting or kicking you. People food will make animals ill.

Wild Burrow in Custer State Park, SD. People had fed the burrows in the past and one expecting I had food gave me a surprise nudge from behind.
Wild Burrow in Custer State Park, SD. People had fed the burrows in the past and one expecting I had food gave me a surprise nudge from behind.
Fighting elephant seals. Stay clear of them for they weight a lot and can deliver a very dangerous bite not only from the teeth but from the bacterial which dwell in their mouths.
Fighting elephant seals. Stay clear of them for they weight a lot and can deliver a very dangerous bite not only from their teeth but the bacteria that dwell in their mouths.
Wild Horses Fighting & Biting - Just because they are on a National Seashore and wander past people in the parking lots, they will bite or kick if approached too closely.
Wild Horses Fighting & Biting – Just because they are on a National Seashore and wander past people in the parking lots, they will bite or kick if approached too closely.

– Be careful where you put your hands when moving logs or reaching under something where poisonous spiders, snakes, etc. might be hiding. Consider wearing heavy gloves.

– Look before lying on the ground – fire ants, etc.

Prairie Rattle Snake. Not very aggressive but still will strike if it feels threatened.
Prairie Rattle Snake. Not very aggressive but still will strike if it feels threatened.

– Don’t leave equipment unattended even in parks. Be alert around strangers.

– When traveling overseas, visit your local travel clinic for the most recent info on health concerns, vaccinations, etc.

– Avoid insect bites. Tics and mosquitos can carry serious diseases. Spray clothes with permethrin and consider using insect repellent such as those containing 30 % Deet. Net jackets and hats can be helpful in areas where mosquitos are present in high numbers.

Night Heron with crab. Walking into a marsh can be dangerous. Mud can suck off your shoes, you can fall, and may have difficulty finding firm ground. In many areas tidal guts criss-cross the marsh and make it difficult to navigate. On the coast changing tides can complicate the problem.
Night Heron with crab. Walking into a marsh can be dangerous. Mud can suck off your shoes, you can fall, and may have difficulty finding firm ground. In many areas tidal guts criss-cross the marsh and make it difficult to navigate. On the coast changing tides can complicate the problem.

– Bats carry rabies so if scratched or bitten seek medical help immediately. Without the proper shots, it can kill.

– Use sunscreen and SPF 50 rated clothing for protection from the sun and to reduce the chances of skin cancer.

– Wear a hat to shade your face from the sun.

– For emergencies, carry a whistle, cell phone, or personal locator such as a handheld satellite communicator. Depending on the model, some locators can send and receive text, track your location, and send out SOS in case of emergency. They vary in power, coverage, and application with some primarily for emergencies. Check out www.delorme.com or www.outdoorgearlab.com. The later web site helps you decide what type of device is the best for your application.

Click to enlarge

Samples of personal Locator Beacons

– Be considerate of other photographers.

– Avoid damaging habitat.

– Don’t stress an animal or put it in danger.

– Only enter private property with permission.