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Wildlife Photography Ethics

Wildlife Photography

Whether you're out hiking in the backcountry or sightseeing from your car, a chance encounter with wildlife is a treasured moment. To get great wildlife shots requires a telephoto lens and lots of patience.

Telephoto Lens Wildlife Photography

Because your subject is a wild animal, it's imperative that you know how to view and photograph wildlife sensitively, responsibly, and with low impact.

  • View and photograph from an established observation area or the trail when hiking. If an animal approaches, back away to maintain a safe distance.
  • Use binoculars, spotting scopes, and telephoto lenses to view and photograph wild animals to avoid stressing them.
  • Remain alert to potential danger while viewing or taking pictures.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with bears, even through a lens, because it may be interpreted as a challenge or threat.
  • Avoid blocking the view of wildlife to other visitors.
  • Stay away from newborn or young animals, nests, and dens.
  • Never sneak up on or otherwise surprise a wild animal, especially a bear.
  • Never surround, crowd, chase, or follow an animal; it may respond by charging.
  • Never try to get an animal to move to a different location.
  • Don't make sudden loud noises around wild animals.
  • Watch other people in the area—are they putting you in danger?
  • Always carry bear pepper spray, but remember it is not a substitute for proper precautions when photographing wild animals, bears in particular. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) recommends its use only as a deterrent in a confrontation with an aggressive or attacking bear.