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Photographer Fined in Singapore for Baiting Birds, Act Raises Issue on Wildlife Photography and Ethics

May 03, 2017 05:38 AM EDT

A photographer got a $3,800 fine for baiting birds at Singapore Botanic Gardens.

According to Peta Pixel, the photographer fed three birds which were venturing off-trail to get a good photo of them. He was fined $800 for entering the park, which is close to the public, and $3,000 for baiting the birds.

A report published by Straits Times identified the man as Johnson Chua, 51, who also works in the information technology industry.

Charges came after he was photographer by other people in the park as he was crossing the prohibited area. Despite the warning signs, Chua was photographed peering through his lens past the rope barrier that separates the barred area from where tourists should be.

He was also reportedly carrying a bag full of mealworms, which he used to bait the birds. There were three birds that took his bait -- a silver pheasant, an orange-headed thrush and a red-legged crake.

The use of bait to attract wildlife is a sensitive issue, and Chua is not the first photographer to be charged for using bait on his subjects.

Last year, Lee Soon Tai, an orthopaedic surgeon who injected live fish with air to use as bait for eagles, was fined S$2,000, Today reported. The air was supposed to make the fish float longer and give the eagle a chance to seize them.

In 2014, National Geographic had an interview with professional wildlife filmmaker and photographer Jeff Hogan to discuss the ethics of wildlife photography.

Asked if baiting the subject is wrong, he responded, "I can't say it's wrong, just wrong for me. I think it's always important to ask yourself, is what I'm doing necessary? And how is it affecting the situation? There are a lot of great people out there who would fight tooth and nail for wildlife, but then they get caught up in the moment and will do anything to get the shot they want."

Hogan asserted that the welfare of an animal should be more important than the quality of the photo, and as long as no animals were killed and put into danger in doing the shoot, it is quite acceptable.

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