A question of photography ethics

  • A photo, L, in the Dec

    an. "National Wildlife" magazine by photographer Krasemann
 

It's been said that a fed bear is a dead bear. So it was ironic when National Wildlife, the glossy, bimonthly publication of the National Wildlife Federation, illustrated portions of an article on efforts to save grizzlies with three photos of grizzly bears that allegedly had been lured into the photographer's backyard with birdseed. The article, titled "Helping a Great Bear Hang On," ran in the December/January issue of the magazine.

According to a letter to the president of of the federation from Tim Manley, the state of Montana's grizzly bear specialist, the photographer, Stephen J. Krasemann, has been warned repeatedly not to feed the bears.

"Each of these photos," writes Manley, "was taken of grizzly bears that were knowingly baited to Mr. Krasemann's residence ... Krasemann knowingly habituated and food-conditioned those grizzly bears, despite repeated efforts on our part to get him to stop."

Manley, who works for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, says he spotted the photos when he was paging through the magazine and recognized the bears.

While the captions describe the location for the photos as the Flathead National Forest, Manley says they were taken on Krasemann's private land - which is surrounded by Flathead National Forest. There are no abandoned bird feeders in the forest, Manley says, only in Krasemann's back yard.

At issue, Manley says, is the fact that once a bear grows accustomed to getting its food from people, it becomes a nuisance - and then must be either killed or captured and relocated. He says that he knew of "10 different grizzly bears that Mr. Krasemann was feeding at his residence in order to photograph them."

Jay Gore, the grizzly bear recovery coordinator with the Forest Service, says he became aware of Krasemann's baiting techniques at a conference last fall, at which point he alerted his fellow Forest Service employees to avoid using the photographer's work.

Although the Missoula office of the National Wildlife Federation was aware of Manley's letter, the Virginia-based editors of the magazine didn't get the word until he contacted them. Sterling Miller, a bear biologist who works with the federation in Missoula, explains that there was little the editors could do, considering that Krasemann had not been forthcoming about the conditions under which his pictures were taken. Several photos by other photographers that accompany the article are labeled either "captive" or "controlled conditions," an indication that they were not taken in the wild. In a letter responding to Manley, NWF President Mark Van Putten writes, "All of us at the National Wildlife Federation are extremely chagrined to hear about Steve Krasemann using unethical practices to photograph grizzlies."

For his part, Krasemann has denied that he knowingly baited the bears. According to the statements he made to the Kalispell Daily Interlake, Krasemann spread grain around his property to attract elk and deer, not grizzlies. "The only way it could be considered baiting bears is in a long, roundabout way," he told the paper.

But the Forest Service's Gore maintains that Krasemann was warned. "I think if a reasonable person could assume that feeding bears led to their death, it would be against the Endangered Species Act. So, I don't think the guy can plead dumb. He was warned, and he knew what he was doing."

In a sad epilogue to the tale, Manley notes that a cub pictured in the photos was "illegally killed, largely due to his habituation to people. He died with a belly full of birdseed." Manley and Gore both also express concern the state will have to continue working through next summer to take care of other "problem" bears that visited the photographer's backyard.

Dan Oko is a freelance writer in Missoula, Montana.

You can ...

* see National Wildlife on line at nwf.org/natlwild/ or contact the National Wildlife Federation at 703/790-4000.

High Country News Classifieds
  • PROGRAM MANAGER, SUSTAINING FLOWS
    Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • PROGRAM ASSOCIATE - VERDE RIVER EXCHANGE
    Verde River Exchange - Friends of the Verde River, Cottonwood, AZ. Apply at https://verderiver.org/employment-opportunities/
  • CODE COMPLIANCE OFFICER
    Teton County Planning & Building is hiring! Our ideal candidate is a team-player, a problem-solver, pays attention to detail, and can clearly communicate technical material...
  • ARCHITECTURE DRAFTSPERSON/PROJECT MANAGER
    Studio Architects is seeking a full time Architectural drafts-person/project manager with1-3 years of experience to join our firm. At Studio Architects our mission is to...
  • ASSISTANT MANAGER/TRAINEE, COLORADO RANCH
    needed for 16,000+ acre conservation property in south central Colorado. Qualified candidate would have experience working on a ranch or wilderness property, general forestry/fire management...
  • FARM HAND &/OR NANNY IN ESCALANTE
    Nanny for 18-mnth-old. Yearly salary, vacation, health insurance. Spanish/other foreign-language native spkr prefrrd.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Washington Association of Land Trusts seeks an ED to build on WALTs significant success & to lead the association to new levels of achievement. See...
  • BEAUTIFUL CUSTOM STRAWBALE HOME IN WESTERN COLORADO!
    Secluded, energy efficient Southwestern home on 40 wooded acres. Broker - Rand Porter - United Country Real Colorado Properties. 970-261-1248, $425K
  • PUBLIC LANDS ORGANIZER
    The Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and assisting individuals and organizations to value, conserve, enhance, manage, and protect...
  • FORMER RETREAT CENTER/CONSERVATION PROPERTY FOR SALE
    57 acres in Skull Valley, AZ, 17 miles from Prescott, year-round creek, swimming holes, secluded canyon, hiking/meditation trails, oaks, pines, garden, greenhouse. House, office building,...
  • ARIZONA PUBLIC LANDS ORGANIZER
    Title: Public Lands Organizer About the Arizona Wildlife Federation (AWF) The AWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating, inspiring, and assisting individuals and organizations...
  • HISTORIC RANCH HOME W/ 20 ACRES
    Historic 1893 Ranch Headquarters. 4 Bdrm, 3.5 Ba, 4000 ft2. Remodeled 2002. Includes 2 studio apts, stables, arena, workshop, 5 RV hookups. Chirachua & Peloncillo...
  • NORTH TUCSON FOOTHILLS
    11.63 acres of lush desert foothills on Tucson's near north side, secluded, secure, no HOA. 10 minute walk to Waldorf and Montessori schools, regional bike...
  • VICE PRESIDENT OF RETAIL OPERATIONS
    The Vice President of Retail Operations will provide overall leadership and accountability for purchasing, product development, merchandising planning, visual merchandising, retail operational excellence, oversight and...
  • ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners seeks an experienced fundraiser with excellent communication and organizational skills.
  • MS ACCESS DATABASE PROGRAMER
    Looking for an access programmer. Contract position. Send resume with references and rates to: [email protected] www.prospace.biz
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    position in Phoenix with the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy.
  • ROADS END CABIN NEAR YELLOWSTONE
    Vaulted ceilings, two fireplaces, two bedrooms, loft, jetted tub, wifi. Forest, mountain views. Wildlife. [email protected]
  • ACCOUNTING CLERK
    Our director is seeking to employ the services of an Accounting Clerk to assist with various accounting and administrative tasks. This is a great opportunity...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY RADIO PROJECT
    Community Radio Project, Cortez, CO (KSJD & the Sunflower Theatre). Visit ksjd.org and click on the Executive Director search link. CRP is an EOE.