Whether you’re out hiking in the backcountry or sightseeing from your car, having a chance encounter with wildlife is a magnificent and treasured moment. Watching little calves’ speed running zigzag among the herd or glimpsing a bear munching on glacier lilies are sights that captivate and inspire us all. For many, however, the experience is overpowering. They lose sight of the fact that the subject of their admiration is a wild creature. Sadly, some foolish human behaviour results in tragic consequences to wildlife and humans. Therefore, it’s imperative that you know how to view and photograph wildlife sensitively and responsibly in a low impact manner. You will be rewarded with the most amazing experiences and others will learn from your fine example!.
Wildlife photographers must adhere to a certain code of ethics. These guidelines are designed to ensure no harm is done to wildlife or their natural habitats. They depend on the rules and regulations of the area national park, wilderness area, etc. you are visiting. Be aware, that the ecosystem you visit may be fragile, so the photographer must walk gently. First and foremost, view wildlife from a safe distance for both you and them. Respect their spatial needs. If the animal interrupts its behaviour resting, feeding, etc., then you are too close and must distance yourself.
The wildlife photographer must never force action and he should be patient. The most beautiful photographs result from natural action. Never come between a parent and its offspring. For example, one can see tiny bear cubs distressed, treed then separated from their mother by a throng of tourists eager for a closer look. This is unacceptable behaviour. Never crowd, pursue, prevent escape, and make deliberate noises to distract, startle or harass wildlife. This is stressful and wastes valuable energy in needless flight. The impact is cumulative. Never feed or leave food for wildlife.
Habituation due to handouts can result in disease or even death of that animal and injury to you. Never encroach on nests or dens, as certain species will abandon their young. Never interfere with animals engaged in breeding, nesting, or caring for young. Learn to recognize wildlife alarm signals and never forget that these animals are not tame no matter how docile or cuddly they appear. Do not damage or remove any plant, life form or natural object. Do pack out trash. Acquaint yourself with and respect the behaviours and ecosystems of the wildlife
you may encounter. By doing so, you will enrich your experience tremendously. Finally, and most significant, remember that the welfare of the subject and habitat are irrefutably more important than the photograph.