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Know the West

Not our photographer

  Dear HCN,

In your article, "A Question of Photography Ethics," reporter Dan Oko unfairly impugns the integrity of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) over a bear photograph which he charges was taken in an unethical manner and subsequently appeared in National Wildlife magazine. But Mr. Oko leaves out some important facts.

First, the photographer in question is a freelancer, not an NWF employee. Thus, the organization must depend on the information provided by that photographer in evaluating his work - no further degree of control is possible. Second, NWF and its publications are leaders in setting and abiding by the standards for ethical wildlife photography. Our magazines were the first in the country to label photographs of animals taken in captivity or under controlled conditions. In the past, when we have been able to confirm unethical practices by a photographer, we have stopped working with that freelancer.

Philip B. Kavits

Vienna, Virginia

The writer is vice president for communications of the National Wildlife Federation.