Thursday, 8 February 2018

Sharing locations of wildlife signs and activity, Good or bad?

Every now and then I get asked by locals and wildlife groups where and when is the best place and time to see wildlife locally. I have in the past seen and experienced the effects of sharing this information so in this post, I'll be sharing a few incidents which happened within the last 10 years.
The first experience that went wrong when sharing information was with a fellow wildlife photographer that I took to photograph a family of Badgers over one summer. I asked the person not to go there without me and not to take anybody there as this may draw unwanted attention to the sett and if the wood was entered incorrectly and left with no disturbance, this was before the Badger cull was ever put into action. One summers evening when the light was perfect I went to have a few hours of peace at the sett. I arrived hoping for peace and Badger cubs chirping but I was met with peanuts littering the area and the trusted photographer had taken another person there without my knowledge.
 My trust in the person was lost and it took me years to relax back into my routine at the sett as I felt that at any moment when the Badgers had trusted me enough to feed and relax sometimes a meter away from me could be disturbed at any moment. I felt like through trusting somebody else with the Badgers location I had put them in danger and would never get the special moments I once had before telling the trusted individual. After a few years, the Badgers and I relaxed as the individual that was trusted moved away and the wooded sett were returned back to me and the Badgers once again.
After this experience, I knew I would have to be selective and think about who and what information I shared with people or wildlife groups as this can have effects on Nature beyond our thinking.
A few years later another person was trusted as I asked for help when gaining evidence against person/persons committing wildlife crimes. This person then went to a relative without being asked who turned out was an acquaintance of the person/persons I was gaining evidence on to give to a wildlife crime officer. I'm guessing the relative of the person I trusted went to the person I was gaining evidence against and told them they were being asked about. So because of the person Id trusted did not think about the consequences of there actions the evidence stream we were using was lost and the trail we were following went cold. More recently I have managed on my walks to capture and begin building evidence from the field on a few individuals committing wildlife crimes ie. linked people, car reg, places visited, times active. It's through the experiences above and a few others I have not mentioned that I have shown me I cannot take the risk of trusting people with too much of my local knowledge as it can be turned around agasit the creatures I have vowed to protect. Now I follow a new set of rules and over the past 2 years, it seems to be producing results which should come to fruition this year.
I trust people in everyday life and use the idiom "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me"  I'm not one to distrust everyone I see or talk to but if it's regarding nature unless I see the protection of a creature/habitat to much for me to protect myself then I manage it myself or make use of a trusted family member to solve a situation. For example, let's say if a sett comes in danger from people involved with the cull and I can't disturb them or distract them from there awful acts then I would get more people involved within the field of the Badger cull preventers to aid me.
So I can choose who I trust but I cannot control who they trust and who they trust because who knows somewhere along the chain they may just have a relative or friend who  is an air rifle wielder and like staking shots at nature for there own gratification and for me I'd rather not take the risk.
I hope this makes things a little clearer to those people who ask me to share my sightings and locations. When I'm not working I spend most of my time outdoors with nature so its a big part of my life so I don't take my decisions lightly when it comes to protecting Nature and our beautiful countryside.

Regards

Mike

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