Don’t Mess With Mother Nature – She’s Taking Photos And Video

March 20, 2013 Wildlife Photography  6 comments

I am thrilled to see a trend taking place…photographers taking pictures of people breaking the law where wildlife is concerned.


The most recent debacle came when Cathy Terry was at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida and witnessed two photographers touching endangered Sandhill Crane babies.  Not only did she snap photos of this in progress, they are great photos that are crisp and clear and these will help identify these two men for the authorities.  You can read the full story and see all of the photos HERE.

image copyright Cathy Terry


A friend and fellow photographer, Steve Leach also photographed another law breaker at Ft. Desoto last year.  A woman decided she was going to ride an endangered Florida Manatee.  He took the photos, submitted them to the authorities and they went VIRAL.  The woman did actually end up turning herself in!   You can read the full article from the St. Pete Times HERE and you can read Steve’s personal account of what happened and how he felt about his photos going viral HERE.

copyrighted image by Steve Leach

copyrighted image by Steve Leach


Another recent manatee encounter showed a man picking up, petting and letting his children ride a baby manatee and he actually posted those photos of himself to facebook!  Authorities I believe, have taken action.  Manatees are an endangered species, and in Florida it’s a misdemeanor to “intentionally molest, harass or disturb” the gentle animals. “An interaction that may seem harmless and innocent may ultimately have serious consequences for manatees,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in a statement.  You can read the article and see the photos HERE.


Not really illegal…yet…more videos and photos of humans in action…


There’s a trend that’s been going on quietly for quite a long time now, one that for years wasn’t discussed but is now gaining a lot of attention through social networking and youtube videos!  The baiting of wild owls for photographers to get the ‘perfect shot’.  Usually this happens with Snowy Owls and Great Grey Owls.  I’m not going to give my personal opinion on this as I have never personally done it, or witnessed it.  Here are two you tube videos that have gone viral showing baiting….

If you’d rather view those videos on youtube you can find them HERE and HERE.  I caution you about reading some of the comments left on the videos, they go from one extreme to the other covering both sides, whatever side of the fence you are on where baiting is concerned, be prepared to be frustrated if you read the comments.

When you do see photos of these owls online, you can usually pick out the ones that were baited….you’ll see an owl getting ready to land in snow with it’s talons extended…it’s going after a mouse.  I’ve seen other photos where you can actually see the trail the mouse left in the snow…but you won’t ever see the mouse.


There’s crazy people doing crazy things all over, not all illegal of course…but I did get a chuckle out of this photograph by my friend and fellow photographer, Michael Pancier that he took in Everglades National Park of some tourists getting entirely too close to a wild crocodile…


I could link all day to people doing stupid things around WILD animals…such as this video of kids getting too close to wild bison at Yellowstone National Park.

There’s quite a discussion going on HERE about people getting too close to wildlife as well.  Included in the forum post are photos by Dan Stebbins that he captured of this bison going after a woman….as well as many other photos of people doing some pretty dumb things with elk, bears and more.


I know that ultimately, most people want to get those fabulous National Geographic style photos they see of wildlife.  What they don’t understand is the planning, research and gear that goes into getting those shots.  Most professional photographers take the time to learn about the animal they want to photograph, they have the lenses and gear that will keep them a safe distance from the wild animal and also get the shot, they also learn how to be in that animal’s habitat without disturbing that animal or alerting it to their presence.  I think a lot of these regular folks get into trouble when they have a point and shoot or a phone and continue to get closer and closer to get the shot they want.  Also, most tourists no longer read about the areas they are visiting…these national parks give out free brochures with information in them about the wildlife for a reason.  They post signs about not feeding or getting close to the wildlife for a reason.  I remember years ago when I was working at a south Florida park…we had signs up that said ‘do not feed the alligators’ around all of the lakes in the park.  I had a woman ask me if the signs were ‘real’.  She thought they were for decoration, like this was Disney World or something.  I explained to her the signs were in fact, ‘real’ and how feeding gators make them lose their fear of humans, resulting in attacks and that feeding alligators in Florida is illegal.  There was this sad account of a woman jogger who was killed outside a Florida park HERE.  That is a highly developed area, and most likely that was an alligator that was fed by humans.


Next time you’re out and about and see a wild animal, just remember that they are WILD.  Just because they are beautiful or cute, doesn’t mean they won’t come after you.

6 comments to Don’t Mess With Mother Nature – She’s Taking Photos And Video

  • dennis derby UNITED STATES  says:

    It’s been a great year for people doing incredibly stupid things. The Great Grey Owls have stirred up a mess up here. Thanks for posting this – well done, Heather!

  • Terry Davis UNITED STATES  says:

    Yes these are pictures of people not just photographers doing stupid things. My only problem is with #1, Sandhill Cranes are not endagered. There is no violation of the endagered species act. Although the person did do something extremely stupid, he/she did not break any wildlife protection laws.

    • Wild4Stars UNITED STATES  says:

      Sandhill Cranes are not endangered, but it is against Florida law to harrass, touch, or even feed them. There are signs all over Circle B explaining this.

      • admin UNITED STATES  says:

        Thanks for the clarification! :) I was just going off of what some of the news articles, which mentioned they were endangered.

  • admin UNITED STATES  says:

    Thanks for the info Terry, I was just assuming (you know what happens when you assume, lol) that the news articles posted were correct that it was against the law with the Sandhills ;-)

  • Debbie Tubridy UNITED STATES  says:

    My goodness, I could write a book on how people do such CRAZY things around wildlife! Some unknowingly, which is unbelievable enough, but most often, intentionally, which is inexcusable! Unfortunately, it’s the animal that usually pays the price for humans teaching them bad behavior. So sad.

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