The opportunity to be immersed in the lives of wild creatures makes it very easy (and understandable) to become emotionally invested in their well-being. This connection is one of the most powerful things about wildlife cameras, but it also makes them difficult to watch sometimes.
Our approach to research and monitoring, including situations that occur on camera, aims to reveal and document how natural processes unfold. These are wild animals and we've made a conscious decision to keep ourselves out their lives as much as possible. The other important thing to remember is that we often don't have the right answer. There are countless instances of human intervention which have not solved the problem at hand, and in fact, created a whole host of other unintended consequences. At ORI, we have a non-intervention policy. The exception, however, are situations caused by humans.
When we received word of the chick at the Charlo Osprey nest who was not able to open its beak due to an unknown obstruction, our initial response was to wait and watch, but not take any action. After carefully reviewing the video and photos, however, we believed it could be fishing line coming from the beak. We sent the clip to other raptor experts who concurred. A decision needed to be made quickly and – given the potential involvement of manmade material – we decided that intervention was appropriate. As we now know, it was not fishing line after all, but dried fish that may have broken free on its own.
Did we make the right decision? We can debate it till the end of time and there are valid arguments for both sides. We are thrilled to see the Osprey chick, C9, doing well and eating again, but would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate our policy that, in most cases, we will not intervene. Our role as researchers and cam watchers is not to influence the natural interactions between species and their environments. It is to learn, enjoy, document, and promote the conservation of these animals and their ecosystems.