Ethics in wildlife photography

Get ready for the 2019 Headbanger Festival in Radium with some animal-safe photo tips

Submitted by Jen Baker

WildSafeBC Community Coordinator,


Early November marks the beginning of breeding season for Bighorn Sheep in southern British Columbia. As they enter their rut, rams collide head-on to establish a hierarchy and the right to breed with ewes. If you listen closely, you might even be able to hear the sound of rams headbanging in a battle for dominance. This breeding display is spectacular to view. Every year during the rut, visitors arrive in droves to Radium Hot Springs for the annual Headbanger Festival.

Viewing wildlife up close is a special experience, and getting that perfect photo to capture the memory is a must-have for some. However, WildSafeBC recognizes that taking photos of wildlife can sometimes put people and wildlife at risks. WildSafeBC has therefore developed a Photography Code of Ethics. The intent is to reduce a photographer’s actions that may interfere with wildlife’s natural behaviours or that may put people at risk if they are too close to their subjects. To safely photograph wildlife, remember:

• Nature comes first. Do not contribute to human habituation or interfere with the animal’s natural behaviour. Do not use calls to draw in wildlife. Avoid crowding the subject and use a long lens to maintain your distance.

• Research your subject so as not to interfere with wildlife’s routine needs such as feeding and raising young.

• Be respectful of private property. Tread lightly and avoid damaging fragile ecosystems. Stay on trails if unsure.

• Do not stop on highways or roads where speeds exceed 60km/hr unless there is an approved pullout. This can be unsafe for fellow motorists or for wildlife if they cross traffic.

• Do not approach dangerous wildlife such as bears, cougars or wolves. If the animal is aware of your presence, it is better to leave the area slowly or seek the shelter of a structure or vehicle.

• Never feed or bait wildlife to obtain a photo. This includes the use of salt which may have the unintentional consequence of spreading disease.

The upcoming Headbanger Festival, which runs from November 1-3rd, promises to be a fun-filled weekend with a variety of workshops and presentations, including a talk on urban wildlife by your WildSafeBC Community Coordinator. A complete 2019 Headbanger Festival event schedule can be obtained from Tourism Radium. Enjoy the opportunity to view wildlife and remember to photograph responsibly.

To learn more about how you can reduce human-wildlife conflict where you live, work, play and grow, visit

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