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Photographer Too Close to Wildlife, Receives Fines and Probation

GTNP Ranger and Bear, Kent Nelson

In early July a photographer from Jackson Hole pleaded guilty to a charge of being too close to wildlife. Here is the first in a series of reports about ongoing disputes between wildlife officials at Grand Teton National Park and local wildlife photographers.

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Tim Mayo, in a plea agreement before a Teton County Magistrate Judge, received a $235 fine and six months unsupervised probation.

In the news release from the Department of Justice it states that regulations in place in all national parks are there to ensure the safety of visitors and to protect wild animals from human habituation and harassment. It also suggests that photographers who routinely approach wildlife too closely have a cumulative negative effect that could lead to death or injury of an animal.

Mayo is a long standing critic of certain Grand Teton National Park policies, in particular, those applying to the annual elk herd culling that involves a yearly hunt of the animals. He and other photographers have criticized both the hunt and its potential effects on the grizzly bear population. They contend the in-park elk hunt habituates grizzly bears to gut piles as a source of food. That habituation, they believe, endangers both humans and bears.

Tom Mangelson is a world renowned wildlife photographer and friend to Mayo. Both men believe Mayo’s arrest and prosecution represents harassment.

“He’s the wrong guy to target and discredit, because he’s a really honest guy. He grew up in the park service, he grew up in Moose and his dad was a long term park employee. For some reason, they don’t like to be embarrassed-nobody likes to be embarrassed, and we’re not trying to embarrass anybody. We just ask hard questions.”

Over the next week we’ll take a listen on K2 Radio to some of the questions and criticisms coming from Wyoming wildlife photographers and hear the response from wildlife management officials.




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