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Subject:Baiting Owls
From:Michael Hendrickson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Michael Hendrickson <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 4 Nov 2011 10:28:47 -0700

The risk of baiting owls are always weighed 
against the rewards.  There are so many negatives to owl baiting  which include endangering the birds, unfit or diseased food and that it seems obvious to me that it's not worth the risk. 

The use of live mice 
increases the chances for this illusion and it fools everyone who views the photo. Most 
importantly though, it fools the owl. Ethics are traded for aesthetics.

Sure, many will find justification in what they do and many others will 
compliment them for their final result. But, I need to know one thing. 
Why do we want to tame a wild animal such as a Northern Hawk Owl or a Great Great Gray Owl? For any reason other than to take 
away something it has and we want?

There is nothing natural about these methods–only deception. Evolution and the natural process are abated and replaced with urgency.

From what I experience when I go out birding with my camera one needs a lot of patience, persistence and a very good knowledge of the bird in question behavior and habits.  Tossing mice to owls is cutting corners rather being patient and learning its habits.  Its urgency and putting your needs over the owl needs to fool him so you can get that kill fly shot or close up perched shot.

I learned this by talking and chatting with Paul Bannick who is the author of "The owl and the Woodpecker" who is also the feature speaker for Sax-Zim Bog Winter Bird Festival Feb 17-19 2012.  Paul spends long hours photographing owls and he never uses bait to get the photo he wants.  Paul tells me he first observes the owl subject from the field and learn its habits and what tree they favor and ect.. the next day he goes out early before sunrise and waits for the owls to appear.  Its all natural and with no risks.  The awards for him are plenty!

Throwing mice to owls is cheating to achieve photos is simply cheating.  I hope the MOU editors refrain from publishing any owl photo that has been labeled as baited and also from photographers who continue to side with baiting as a way to achieve photos.


Mike Hendrickson
Duluth, Minnesota

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