Home: Scrying: The Wildlife Photographer: A New Endangered Species?

The Wildlife Photographer: A New Endangered Species?

May 01, 2006

Sometime in the not too distant future, in Yellowstone Park:A wildlife photographer focuses on an eagle near the Madison River in Yellowstone National Park

 Child: Mom! What’s that over there with the big shiny lens pointing at that bird?!?

Mother: Oh, don’t worry, dear, that’s just a wildlife photographer.

Child: No way! I thought they were an endangered species here! Shouldn’t he be protected?

Mother: No, dear, they aren’t protected. Ever since they changed the fee structure for filming in national parks, they’re just expected to starve to death.

Child: Wait… what about the big movie crew over the hill? With all the Hollywood producers and actors filling up all the good sites? They aren’t starving… sure, some of the actresses were skinny, but the rest of them looked really well fed.

Mother: Oh, a small daily fee doesn’t bother Hollywood. It’s still less than they pay to rent out just about anywhere else.

Child: Ah, I see… That’s why all my nature videos are all 20 years old, but Bigfoot looks like he’s really here now…. Cool. Ooh, Mommy, can I go feed the photographer?

Mother: No, honey, he might bite…

As the lights dim, a silent silhouette appears on the ridge—Bigfoot. Dramatic music [dun dun duhhnnn] as scene draws to a close.

Announcer: Coming soon! To a national park near you!

Well, ok… don’t expect Bigfoot (although I have known some large, hairy, and grouchy campers) but a proposed change in the fee structure for filming national parks could endanger wildlife photographers:

Wildlife photographers and documentary filmmakers say a new fee schedule for commercial filming in Yellowstone and other national parks could put them out of business.

“It won’t just be the filmmakers and photographers affected by this, it’ll be the whole country,” said Jeff Hogan, a documentary filmmaker in Jackson, Wyo., who has shot wildlife programs for National Geographic and the BBC.

“People will have less exposure to these beautiful places and exciting animal behaviors,” he said. “There will be less opportunity for people to learn about wildlife.”

The interim fees, scheduled to go into effect May 15, would charge filmmakers at least $150 per day for filming in the park.

They now pay just $200 per year, plus fees for any park services or assistance they require.

The law requiring the location fees was sponsored by Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., who said Friday that the provision was meant for larger-scale Hollywood movie productions, not small-scale nature films.

“A not-for-profit company filming birds was never intended to be charged under my legislation,” Thomas said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

But nature photographer Dan Hartman is worried about what could happen in the future if the government starts charging more for commercial filming and photography at national parks.

“Look at our country today. Nature is the last thing on anyone’s minds,” Hartman said. “To take away this type of wildlife programming would be devastating. I’m hoping this is all just a mistake.” (Rocky Mountain News)

Photo of the wildlife photographer by Terri French via Nikon.PixelCritic