Now that the dust has settled from Mr Benson's recent article on camera trap Papparazzi, I feel duty bound to set the record straight about misleading statements that aroused a few to mount their high horses.
First, the author's contention that "massive deployment" of camera traps "may be hurting the animals they are used to study".
If this wasn't an otherwise serious article I'd swear the author was pulling our legs. I mean . . . "Massive deployment?" Like the invasion of Normandy?
This and other statements alarmed a few gullible readers, but most of the commenters to the article didn't buy it. This blog received over 40,000 hits resulting from the article, and most readers were apparently indifferent.
Here's my suggestion to the author and other suspicious readers. The next time you fly across country look down and visualize the spacing of all those deployed camera traps. If you still see "massive deployment" take Benson's quoted figure of 300,000 and try calculating the number of cameras per acre of public and private land.
Now, how do you think that figure compares with the density of automobiles, snow mobiles, and ATVs out there? Shall we compare their impact on wildlife?
The author got it into his head that cameras "can" hurt wildlife.
But then I thought, you're getting old, codger, and the English language is changing.
So I looked up "hurt" in Webster's.
"Hurt: vt (ME hurten): to inflict with physical pain; WOUND; to do substantial or material harm to: DAMAGE; to cause pain or anguish to: OFFEND; to be detrimental to: HAMPER syn. see INJURE."
Yes, he's stretching it quite a bit.
Why? I did my best on the phone to share my experiences with him. You can read many moods from camera trap images -- indifference, distraction, curiosity, and occasionally surprise. Perhaps even rare cases of aggression, though I doubt it.
He didn't want to be confused with facts, and concluded that "If such provocation were consistent and widespread—and the increasing popularity of camera traps means that it is rapidly becoming both—it could lead endangered animals to waste energy or avoid fruitful areas for foraging or hunting."
A little knowledge is dangerous, but he was cautious enough, or perhaps uncertain enough to say it "could" happen.
The truth of the matter is this. If camera traps were so damn disturbing to wildlife, they wouldn't take so damn many pictures of wildlife.
(I'm not through yet. In future posts I will discuss some concepts of animal psychology and behavior as they apply to camera trapping.)