Don’t Feed the Wildlife – Really!

In a way, I wish I had never had the opportunity to get this image. Sure, it’s a beautiful red fox, up close and personal, and I didn’t have any red fox images prior to this. But it’s the way I had to get the image that bothers me.

I had just finished shooting in the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park and was catching a ride back to Longmire with my photo buddy Jeremy. After we left the Paradise parking lot, Jeremy said, “Keep a look out for a red fox on your side! He starts at this first pullout looking for handouts and then heads down the road to the next one until he finds people to feed him.”.

Red Fox, Mount Rainier National Park, WashingtonGreat, I thought. Another habituated animal playing in traffic because some tourists think they know better than the rangers and insist on feeding the wildlife. (If you don’t know why you shouldn’t feed wildlife, please read this short paragraph, Winter Wildlife. To learn more, follow the “Keep Wildlife Wild” link at the end.)

Well, it didn’t take long to find this little guy. Sure enough, he was darting back and forth across the road to get crackers and other junk from tourists at a pullout. So, what to do? Well, get some images, I suppose. This poor creature probably won’t be around much longer anyway (they get run over on that road all the time).

Red Fox, Mount Rainier National Park, WashingtonAnd what to do about the tourists with the crackers? Well, I have to be pretty wound up to get confrontational, and at that point I was just sad, and a little guilty. Besides, if they didn’t listen to park rangers, why would they listen to me, especially after I had just spent the last five minutes shooting images that were made possible because of their foolishness? So, I just got in the car and left.

While researching links for this post, I came across this one from my photographer friend Lee Rentz. It turns out I’m not the only one who has had this opportunity, followed by the guilt. Here’s his version.

So there it is, the story of the cute little red fox. I suppose it’s another one of my dirty little secrets. Sure hope the little guy made it.

To learn more about this subject, check out these links:

Biologists Studying Cascade Fox At Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier’s Red Fox Menace
Don’t feed the rare Cascade foxes at Mount Rainier National Park

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Response to “Don’t Feed the Wildlife – Really!”

  1. Ron says:

    I saw this little guy at the same time last year…and felt the same sadness….while I rolled off a number of shots. If he doesn’t live long on that road, he’ll live forever thanks to the many photographers who now own his image