A Photographer Used Roadkill to Attract an Eagle, Then He Won a Contest

A Photographer Used Roadkill to Attract an Eagle, Then He Won a Contest

Biologist and Canon Europe Ambassador Audun Rikardsen creates stunning images on land and in the sea – often employing strobes, underwater housings with dome ports, and other specialized gear to give his images a level of eye-popping polish.

Recently, Rikardsen took top honors in the “Behavior: Birds” category in the UK’s Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest for his incredible image of a golden eagle just inches away from landing on a branch. The contest prohibits “live baiting” or other activity that “adversely affect [the animal’s] behaviour, either directly or through irresponsible habituation,” but Rikardsen used roadkill to help attract the eagle.

In this episode of Vision Slightly Blurred, Sarah and Allen discuss wildlife ethics (and how they can vary by locale), contest culture, and how every wildlife photo doesn’t need a conservation story. 

We mention the following photographers, articles, and websites in this episode:

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This article was written by

Allen Murabayashi is the Chairman and co-founder of PhotoShelter.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Jessica at 5:39 pm

    I guess putting 3 years of work (and roadkill) into gradually habituating the eagle to land on the branch counts as “responsible habituation” (as it probably should – the patience and time that goes into so much of the great wildlife photography astounds me). It is really interesting, especially contrasted with most of the other photo contests (and photojournalism in general) where any sort of staging of an image isn’t allowed. So many grey areas with wildlife. His images are stunning, regardless, and he really does seem to approach it in a responsible, sustainable way. Thanks for an interesting discussion (and the links, I love seeing all of the background)!

  2. Tim at 11:03 pm

    According to the caption, he also put the branch there too, he “carefully positioned this tree branch”. So, I guess he found a nice background, put the branch there with the nice background and then started occasionally leaving roadkill carcasses in the area so that the eagle would start to use the branch.

    It all seems to be within that competition’s rules – roadkill is not “live” baiting, and he was totally upfront about how he went about getting the shot – and the rules say that techniques to attract wildlife to the camera outside of live baiting are allowed as long as they’re declared, not breaking local laws and not irresponsible – and I assume the judges decided his approach was responsible.

    What I am interested in, is why they drew the line at live baiting. Lots of wildlife will scavenge on carcasses if they’re easily available. So, if you can carcass bait, why not live bait too, if it was done in a way deemed responsible by the judges?

    Also, this site seems to have disabled right click – which makes it a real pain when I can’t spell “occasionally” and it gets flagged as misspelled (which also took three attempts to get right) and I can’t easily bring up the correct spelling. It also means I can’t open the links to other articles in new tabs.

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