Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Leave No Trace: Don’t Feed Wildlife

DSCN0174Happening upon this scene brought mixed emotions. I love the weasel family (Mustelidae), especially the American Marten (Martes americana), so I was naturally excited to be able to get so close to this one. That was only because someone had left a pile of dog food at a campsite.

One of the seven principles of Leave No Trace is “Respect Wildlife,” the reasoning is that feeding wildlife “damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.” Fortunately for this Marten, I only wanted to shoot it with my camera. After taking this shot, I chased the Marten away and packed up the dog food. You can learn more about Leave No Trace at www.lnt.org.

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Brendan Wiltse is the Science & Stewardship Director for the Ausable River Association and a professional conservation photographer. He holds a Ph.D. in Biology from Queen's University in Canada. While not out on the water studying Adirondack lakes and streams, he is often roaming the Wilderness with his camera and dog. You can view is photography at www.brendanwiltse.com

7 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    What a beautiful animal. Have never gotten lucky enough to see one of these guys.

    If you crop off the dog food you will have a great picture.

  2. Tim says:

    Should I feel guilty for feeding birds?

    • Susan says:

      Tim, birds do less harm than mammals when human-supplied seed disappears; the birds look elsewhere. Not so with mammals. Mammal behavior changes substantially when they get used to humans supplying food.

      That said, photographer Wiltse snapped a foto of the marten, then removed the food. Wiltse exploited the situation for his own benefit (he wanted the photo), which makes him as equally guilty as the party that left the dogfood.

      Everybody expoits wilderness for their own purposes.

      • I might be equally as guilty had I not removed the food. Might I have stopped the marten from eating another kibble had I not taken the camera out? Maybe. On the other hand, my objective was to use the photo to educate others about not leaving food for wildlife.

  3. JR says:

    No, think of it as foodstamps.

  4. Charlie S says:

    People mean well Brendan but oftentimes they just don’t know any better.There has been too many instances where the DEC had to shoot a nuisance bear because people had been putting food out for them.A few years back I was way back in the woods in Moose River and happened upon fresh animal scat with corn kernels in it.Those corn kernels evidently came from a camper who left a mess behind,which proved to be the case as I came across an abandoned camp whose prior residents left trash and foodstuff behind instead of taking it with them,including corn cobs and a heap of gooey,mayonnaise-laden macaroni salad which was thrown into the fire-pit.Mayonnaise will mess up the innards of a human and I can only imagine what it would do to a wild animal.You can dress people up Brendan but you cant take them anywhere.

  5. dave says:

    When we first moved to the area, we noticed a large pile of corn meal (or something similar) just off the backside of our property. I assumed it was dumped there by the previous owners in a scramble to move out… later, when we saw turkeys frequent the pile over and over we started to suspect the real purpose.

    In time, neighbors and other locals confided in use the real reason for that pile. Back porch hunting.

    I still shake my head at the thought.

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