Encountering and dealing with unfriendly people while iNatting

I see you have many responses to your post, which I will eventually read, but I want to offer my own thoughts while they’re fresh.

Fortunately I’ve never experienced anything like this while iNatting. (While taking an architectural photo, yeah… and it was a commercial building on literal Main Street.) But I know women who are somewhere between reluctant and afraid to go on nature walks alone, so you are not alone in your concerns. If it makes you more comfortable, go with a friend or a group. I do most of my nature walks with a group (we have a few active groups in my area), mostly for the companionship and because I’ve learned about places I might otherwise have missed. But I also walk alone in places where I feel comfortable.

You may be iNatting with a smart phone, but if you’re using a camera be sure to also have a cell phone with you in case you need help. (It could be a sprained ankle as easily as it was an aggressive stranger.) A whistle can help, too.

Have a story in case you run into this guy (or one like him) again. “Oh, I’m doing this for a project at my university and this camera belongs to the university. I really shouldn’t be using it for photos outside the scope of our project.” You shouldn’t need to explain yourself, but some people don’t get that.

As a last resort, take the photo. Suggest he be in the photo with his dog. Show the photo to your friends. Show the cops. Show the park rangers (if you’e in a park). Make sure everyone knows who this guy is who harassed you. And then delete the photo (assuming it’s digital).

As long as you are on public property and not doing anything illegal or creepy, you have every right to photograph wild nature and not to photograph some guy’s dog. What he did was rude and foolish, and it’s unfortunate you bore the brunt of it.


Go with a friend or a group. A local museum hosts a biweekly bird walk, so check with museums, universities, environmental organizations, etc. If you don’t have a group that does nature walks in your area, start one!

I don’t know what you have available where you are, but I find organized walks though sites like Meetup and Eventbrite.

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OK, now I’m ready. I have a photo of the dog, maybe the guy, his name and his e-mail address or phone number. I’m going to the police to make a complaint.

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I’m not that ongiong to have a group, lol, and I’m going in irregular times, when I’m free, can be 7a.m. or 5p.m., can go for long walk or realize after 15 mins I need to go back, plus other people really distract from the purpose (plus it’s a small suburb, I only know like 3 birders around, one I met right in the forest and we’re seeing each other pretty often, he’s very knowledgable, but I feel like I need tips, but don’t need the actual person with me).


Like a month ago police refuse to come when a guy was beating his wife to death, multiple people called them many times, for hours, neighbours had to break into the flat, but woman was already dead and police came only after that, and knowing how mostly they work to solve stuff and will just refuse to take your complain or throw it out when you’ll leave I won’t go with just a pic to them, there’s no actual evidence.


That’s SO HORRIBLE! How can they be so irresponsible?!

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Some guy chased my dad out of the National Forest with a firearm. We figured that he must have had a meth lab or a marijuana grow in that area, because he was very determined that nobody go down that forest road even though it was all public property.


Pretty easy I can tell.)

Police can be rather selective about what they respond to in many cities, including mine. That case told by @melodi_96, where the violence went on for hours and was reported many times is particularly egregious, though. @karen5lund I am not sure I would expect the police to do much of anything here, if I went to them with a photo of a dog and a story about what happened on a nature walk (unless I sustained injuries). Maybe they would have me fill in an online form. You may have more responsive policing in your community, though.


That’s about all I would expect. This coming from someone who has learned from experience that there is no point in reporting a theft; the only reason to bother is if the stolen items were insured, and you need to prove to your insurance company that you did.


Get Smart About Drugs is the website.

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