Beautiful, dynamic photos of animals in their natural habitat are as amazing to behold as they are difficult to come by. Animals aren’t exactly fond of posing as it turns out, which typically means that someone has to be in just the right place at the right time to get the perfect shot of that grizzly bear or those snowy owls.
This is why Finnish photographer Konsta Punkka took matters (or food, rather) into his own hands and began feeding wildlife in order to get them to draw close enough for photographic fun. While any animal lover can certainly empathize with his desire to get up close and personal with his incredible subjects, the results of such an action may not produce such a pretty picture.
Feeding wildlife can have a variety of negative impacts on the animals, which is certainly not what you want to happen when all you intend to do is document their beauty. It’s apparent that Punkka has no interest in harming these animals and is truly a remarkable photographer, but routinely feeding undomesticated creatures lowers their inhibitions when it comes to interacting with humans. This can cause wild animals to approach people, unprompted, and that can lead to some pretty dangerous situations for all parties involved.
Further, foods that we might see as harmless are actually detrimental to the health of the creature consuming it. Wild birds, for example, can suffer joint deformities if their diet relies on the high carbohydrate bread that people routinely like to throw at ponds and lakes in order to get a closer look at them. These deformities make them unable to fly, leaving them defenseless.
Anyone with an interest in wildlife photography needs to understand that interaction with the animals in question is the last thing they should do when chasing that perfect pic. Not only can it be dangerous for the photographer (the term is “wild” animals, after all), but it’s detrimental to the health and long-term well being of the subjects themselves. While there’s no denying that Punkka gets some amazing shots, his talents would best be served with a telephoto lens and some patience.
Punkka’s ability to capture the beauty of wildlife is certainly impressive.
But it is important to recognize that feeding wild animals to get them to pose is not something that should be repeated.
Getting the “perfect” picture isn’t worth an animal’s health … or your fingers.
Having a squirrel feeder in your yard is one thing. Interacting with the squirrel can lead to human dependence for food.
Same goes with birds.
A wild animal with no fear of humans can find themselves exposed to people that could harm them.
Even animals, like squirrels, who are more accustomed to being around people should be photographed from a safe distance. Remember, coming into the space of a wild animal can cause them stress, even if you’re just snapping a picture.
We definitely share Punkka’s adoration for wildlife, but we encourage others to learn from his mistake in giving them food.
We all have a responsibility to keep wildlife wild.
Yes, the arctic fox is freaking adorable. No, you should never feed him.
All image source: Konsta Punkka/Instagram