Furtman is a longtime nature photographer and writer. Recently he’s made it his personal mission to stop the practice of owl feeding — or “baiting,” as he and other detractors call it — which he said is not only unethical, but can harm owls by habituating them to humans.
The issue has become so contentious in recent years that it’s brought photographers to blows, sparked a proposed state law a couple years ago, and led to more and more confrontations, in person, and on-line.
“I compare it to the election,” said Terry Crayne, a longtime hobby wildlife photographer from the Iron Range who has used mice to entice owls. “You don’t want to talk about Trump, because you get jumped on. You don’t want to talk about feeding owls, because it’s the same atmosphere.”
In short, the arguments break down this way. Those opposed to feeding say it’s dishonest. It doesn’t capture owls behaving naturally. And they argue it habituates owls to humans.
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