4 Sep 2019

This week on our blog, the National Wildlife Crime Unit tells us a little more about their social media campaign, Undisturbed. The campaign, which encourages photographers and drone users to minimise their disturbance to wildlife, is one of many wildlife and rural crime initiatives Scottish Land & Estates is proud to support. 

Undisturbed is a social media campaign by the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) encouraging wildlife photographers and drone users to minimise disturbance to wildlife while in the field.  Recent incidents have seen seals stampede into the sea, ospreys lift off nests, dolphins dive for cover and seabirds flee cliff ledges due to the presence of photographers or drones.  A recent survey on adders attributed their decline, in part, to photographers.

Between May and November 2019, the NWCU are tweeting a message every Friday containing information and advice about a different native species along with a warning regarding disturbance.  With support from the Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime in each UK country, the campaign has been widely viewed and well received.  

Leading photographer Laurie Campbell has over 40 years’ experience in photographing wildlife and has seen a gradual increase in the number of wildlife disturbance incidents by members of the public with cameras.  Laurie offers the following advice:

“As far as possible, one should always research the species of bird or mammal in advance and to determine its protected status within law before attempting to photograph it. Recognising the signs of stress and being aware of any changes in the natural behaviour of any animal is vital, both to judge how close you may approach safely, and when to back away. Regardless of whatever the protected status of the species may be, its welfare must always come before the desire to photograph it.”

Chief Inspector Lou Hubble, Head of the NWCU, said, “Wildlife is amazing!  It is a real privilege to see animals and birds in their natural habitat.  We have such a diverse range of species throughout the UK and it is only natural to want to get close to them.  However, this initiative serves to remind people that disturbance could be a criminal offence.  Please be responsible when photographing or filming wildlife and birds and allow others to enjoy the experience as you have.”

Disturbance of wildlife can be a crime and anyone seeing such incidents should contact the Police on 101. 

You can view the posts from Undisturbed by following the NWCU on Twitter: @ukwildlifecrime.

We encourage Scottish Land & Estates members to spread the word about this important campaign to promote responsible access to those who may be photographing the wonderful wildlife found on their land.