Photo credit: North Okanagan Naturalist Club

Special contribution from the Okanagan Similkameen Stewardship Society (OSSS) - The OSSS works directly with locals, in the Okanagan, to support and assist them in caring for important natural areas. They provide information, organize volunteer restoration projects, and support landowners in becoming Wildlife Habitat Stewards on their properties. Visit OSSS's website to find out more and to get involved!


Wildlife photography used to be difficult and expensive. Now, new technology means almost everyone has a camera in their pocket and this explosion of inexperienced wildlife photographers can end up having a negative impact on wildlife. Here are some rules for ethical wildlife photography and viewing:

1) Do No Harm: Not harming an animal should go without saying but habitats count here too. A delicate area trampled by the overzealous can take decades to heal. This also applies to "rearranging" or clearing objects for a good shot.

2) Respect Their Space: If you approach an animal until it moves away from you, you got too close. Even if the animal hasn't moved away you could still be causing stress, keeping that animal from hunting for food, breeding, feeding young because it is busy watching you. Limit the time you spend in any place, especially around nests and other young wildlife.

3) No Shortcuts Baiting: Call playbacks and scent lures are sometimes used to get an animal to come to you. This can lead to habituated animals, poor nutrition, and wasted energy from the animals you are photographing. Playing bird calls during the breeding season is especially harmful.

4) Rules are for you too: While it can be tempting to step off the trail or follow a bird or animal onto private land, trespassing is illegal. Remember- if it isn't okay for everyone to do it, it isn't okay for you to do it.

A recent study found that behaviours like crouching and slow approaches caused birds to fly away sooner than just walking past, likely because this activity makes photographers look like predators.

Now that you know how to be a respectful wildlife viewer - join the Audubon Christmas Bird Count

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is an early-winter bird census, where thousands of volunteers across the U.S., Canada, and many countries in the Western Hemisphere go out over a 24-hour period on one calendar day to count birds. The CBC is a long-standing program of the National Audubon Society, with over 100 years of community science involvement.