One of the first topics I wanted to tackle on my website was the whole question of ethics – what practices would I find acceptable and what would I not. This is of course a very personal assessment and everyone will set their own standards. I thought it would be useful to try to put them down on paper to invite comments, criticisms and future revisions. I’m not sure that I have covered all areas but this is my first attempt after all.
Nothing is more important! Always take the time to stay safe and return home safely at the end of the day
- Assess the risks
- Use appropriate controls to control the risks.
2. Respect the Land Owner
- Ensure you have permission
- Park in designated areas when provided and always so not to cause any obstruction.
- Use designated walkways when provided
- Observe opening times
- Do not alter the environment in any way without permission
- Do not pick any plants.
3. Do not disturb.
The welfare of the subject is always more important than the photograph.
- Use a hide whenever possible.
- Initially install single hide only.
- Install the hide a safe distance from the subject before reducing the distance between the subject and the photographer.
- Maintain as great a distance as possible, at all times, between hide and subject.
- Use long telephoto lenses and teleconverters to maximise the distance between subject and photographer. Consider using digiscoping techniques for vulnerable species.
- Use as small a hide as practical.
- Limit the number of visitors to the hide.
- Keep the number of entries/exits to and from the hide to a minimum. Ideally one entrance/one exit per half day.
- Enter the hide undertake cover of darkness whenever possible.
4. Retreat if Subject Becomes Distressed.
Wildlife will normally retreat themselves but if they do not then it is likely that you are causing unnecessary stress by you obstructing natural behaviour such as attending a nest site. Learn to recognise stressful behaviour of the subject you are trying to photograph and retreat whoever this is detected.
5. Not all Species are Equal
Every species is different in almost every way. Rare species need special protection and different species show different levels of tolerance to disturbance. Some species actually benefit from human activity which may scare away the subjects natural predators. Think of how a robin always appears when you start to do some gardening and how puffins tend to return to the nest when humans are about that scare away some of their predators.
6. Take extra measures during breeding season.
- Install hides outside the normal breeding season so they have an opportunity to adapt or avoid the area.
- Do not interfere with nests.
- Do not use audio tapes to mimic breeding behaviour without proper scientific management.
7. Attract Wildlife Responsibly
- Do not use live bait.
- Do not use traps for the sole purpose of photography.
Ensure any feed is safe and hygenic.
8. Remain Discrete
- Install the hide away from public attention
- Do not broadcast the location of hides and their intended subjects to the general public.
9. Promote Understanding
- Do not give misleading descriptions but rather promote a truthful interpretation of the photograph. All photographers should convey the essential truth about a photograph.
10. Stay Legal
- Do not photograph any Schedule I bird or animal without the necessary license.
- Many species are afforded special legal protection so become familiar with the following:
- The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
- Protection of Badgers Act 1992
- The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
- Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006.