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Subject:Owls and People
From:Michael Hendrickson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Michael Hendrickson <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 7 Feb 2010 17:51:24 -0800

Last night while chatting with leader of a bird touring outfit about owl locations and other bird sightings, the leader told me about a bad situation on the Stone Lake Road in Sax-Zim Bog.  Apparently some nature/bird photographers were feeding mice to the Hawk Owl on the Stone Lake Road.  Well the MOU listserv could go on and on about feeding mice to owls to capture flight photos and hovering of the Hawk Owls but that is not my complaint till I heard more. The birders visited the photographers for a short period and apparently felt from the photographers they wanted to be left alone with the owl. The leader told me that the photographers were constantly baiting the owl with mice before the visit, during the visit and after the visit.  To me that is going way over board on baiting a owl for photos.  The most disturbing issue as they left the area, the leader noticed what look like a fishing pole coming out of one of the vehicles!  Which might be the
 reason why they wanted to be left alone.

I know 99% of birders and photographers are truly good people and we hear about these 1% of these so-called ethical photographers who in my opinion are harassing owls and doing more harm than good with habituating these owls to people from over baiting and also teasing the owls with bait using fishing pole technique.  

I know there are many birders, photographers and raptor trappers who lurk on the MOU listserv to get information on owls, hawks & falcons and other bird species for their own enjoyment.  I always thought of attending a MOU meeting and discussing with the MOU Communication chairman and the MOU board about omitting the locations of Snowy Owls, Hawk Owls, Great Gray Owls, Boreal Owls, Northern Saw-whet Owl, and roosting locations of Long-eared Owls from the MOU listserv.  I know full well it would never get voted on but its an idea in any case.  Every time I hear about these sort of situations I sort of blame myself for being part of the problem since I have a Hawk Owl map on my blog showing any photographer, bander and birder where to locate the owls.  Maybe its time to stop sharing publicly these owl maps, owl locations and etc.. something to think about.

When I posted on the listserv about the Lynx in Lake Co.  another observer saw the same Lynx family and got a super photo of them. I know this person pretty good and he like 99% of the photographers I know, did not use any means to disrupt the Lynx behavior for the photo but I almost let the cat out of the bag when I commented on his photo about where he photographed the Lynx on a MN photographer forum.  He told me to keep it quiet because some photographers ( the 1% I am talking about) will bring rabbits and other store bought pets or road kill to lure the cats in for photos.  He also told me that some person chopped down a spruce tree on the Admiral Rd near the feeders recently and chopped up the wood and left some of the wood along the road.  

Again the problem is dealing with a very small number of people who have no ethics on how to photograph owls and nature. 


Mike Hendrickson
Duluth, Minnesota

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