Wildlife filmmaking ETHICS – Stuff you should know

21 thoughts on “Wildlife filmmaking ETHICS – Stuff you should know

  1. Thank you for making this video and it needs to be seen more. People need to respect nature and animals more than they do and I hope this will help.

  2. Oh my god terrible the fact of the old documentary… humans always doing stupid things…
    Interesting video and so cute the shot of the bears

  3. Serious question. If you’re filming birds, like egrets. Is it ethical after filming for close to half an hour, to throw a stick about 30 yards away to get them take off in flight?

  4. This is fantastic Jonas. With my background in wildlife biology I want to share some extra information with everyone about some federal wildlife laws (all the following is related to the US only). I should be clear that I'm not a wildlife law expert, but this info and more is only a search away.

    Under the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, we cannot film any animal listed under those acts in a way that disturbs them (for example, if you fly your drone over an eagle in a tree and it takes off because of your drone, you have disturbed that eagle and violated law). Once you have disturbed them, you have committed "take" of a species, which also includes anything from killing the animal to collecting its parts (so yes, by definition disturbing is equally as bad as poaching).

    In the case of marine mammals, you can apply for filming permits. If it is an endangered marine mammal, you will have to either move into international waters for filming or work with a researcher. Additionally, sea otters, manatees, walrus, and polar bears require a different permit (through US Fish and Wildlife) than whales, seals, sea lions, etc. (Department of Marine Resources). Sea turtles are a bit odd because they're managed by both US Fish and Wildlife and NOAA, so if you're filming sea turtles on land, you want to go through Wildlife, if in water, you'll want to go through NOAA.

    With species listed under the Endangered Species Act, you'll have to apply for an incidental take permit. The permit will allow you some legal room in the event that you accidentally disturb an endangered species while filming. You have to have every intention not to disturb the animal, but in the event you do, this will help legally protect you. Here's a link to a guide on whether or not you need an incidental take permit: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/Guidance-on-When-to-Seek-an-Incidental-Take-Permit.pdf

    Filming on national parks and national monuments can be a bit of a challenge, so I hear. In most instances you will need a permit because the National Park Service runs under the ideology of preservation (keeping things pristine) rather than conservation (allowing acceptable use that still protects nature). US Fish and Wildlife and the US Forest Service are both conservation-focused organizations, but permits are still often required though are usually easier to achieve.

    Of course, this is all a whooole lot easier if you operate with a researcher and within the bounds of their permits. Yes, violation can be punished hard. Some violations may result in you serving jail, paying large fines, and forfeiting your equipment. By law, wildlife belongs to everyone, so potentially taking away the opportunity to enjoy threatened wildlife for future people is a big deal!

  5. Thank you! I actually stopped photographing birds in our area much of the time, because I got so fed up with seeing careless photographers putting the birds at risk for no good reason at all, other than a few looks on social media. And, some of them turned out to be selling the photos, as professionals. I started photographing those people, their gear, and their license plate numbers. Tricky to get both the idiot and their action into one frame or video, along with their license plate, but worth a try. This includes drone flyers. If you are in an area that needs a permit, get a friggin' permit. You may learn there is a breeding pair of rare birds nearby and NO, not a good time to fly the drone. You wouldn't have known that if you hadn't applied for the permit.

  6. Nice video! I would like to add "Do not interfere in the natural processes". I still remember when, as a kid, I saw in a documentary a seal pup loosing it's mother and then dying from the heat/dehydration on some beach and a jackal eating it. Then I realised that even though the documentarists could have helped/saved it, they let the natural dynamics unfold.

  7. The information that you shared in this video could apply to humans as well. What a wonderful planet this would be if everyone were to understand and apply the principles that you shared. Be well and stay encouraged Rob & Jonas!

  8. Hello! do you also make fiction movies ?? I have a a short film i would love to share with you 🎬; you could look for "PLANETA ZEME STONJAUS" on YouTube or maybe send me a message to give you the link, Thank you very much 👍

  9. This is really important… in human contact is also important to give content of quality and responsable. I work with kids and it’s so important to give them context so that the art and videography can to born free and in a good way of expression… great video greetings from Chile. Cristian

  10. can I just say. I am a huge fan of you guys, I'm 16 and I got into photography because of you guys! I really love your creativity and you're both my roll models and idols. I'm an avid photographer and I learnt soooo many tips and tricks from you two. Thank you so much!

  11. Well said , it is very important not to stress the subject in any way , you might be able to answer this , flash photography with frogs , I got told no by a couple of scientists, natural sciences was told it destroys there sight for a few hours , do you know anything about that ?

  12. Thanks Jonas very much needed to be talked about, for filmmakers not in the know who might, wish to do wildlife documentaries. Bless youse:)

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