Is it ok to tell people off for damaging nature in the wild?

If you see people hurting animals or attacking them, even if it is not your business, is it right to tell them to stop. Eg, somebody forcing newts and crayfish to fight in an enclosed space, or someone throwing rocks at birds.
(I am guessing telling people to not step on ants and insects, although in my eyes people should respect them, is a bit too much)

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Yes - but perhaps safer to report it to animal welfare (if it is about money and betting?)
In Cape Town the SPCA will rescue dogs who are used for fighting. Rehab and rehome if possible. Perpetrators taken to court and charged with animal cruelty.

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I think yes, but only if you feel safe doing so. Otherwise report quietly to authorities…

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Usually, I would report such activities to the local rangers. I think the only such thing I’ve seen an adult do was at Yosemite, where a city slicker was awkwardly chopping on a huge fallen tree (for firewood). I let the concessionaire know and they sent a ranger out to intervene right away.

If they are little kids and the parents are not nearby to intervene themselves; I’ve been known to look on in interest and say, ‘Oh, what a nice fiddler crab! Try not to hit it with your stick, that could hurt. Be gentle with the little ones, let them be free’. But, I try to keep a scolding tone out of my voice. Parents here are often not open to others correcting their children.

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Yes, I think it’s fair to intervene in an educational way, especially if it seems like the issue stems from ignorance rather than malice or there’s a clear immediate danger to an organism. An educational approach is likely to have a more positive effect than an aggressive “telling off”, which would often lead to immediate defensiveness.

As others have suggested, if there’s an authority figure that can be notified, this may often be a preferable solution. The offender is more likely to listen to them than a random person approaching them, and rangers (and others) will likely have had specific training and experience working with people who are not behaving appropriately.

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Always consider your safety first! Especially with poachers. As others said, it’s hard to not sound as teaching and people never like being stopped, but if you can - do it!

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I agree with the advice that it’s almost always preferable to notify a ranger and let them handle the situation based on the training they’ve received. Sometimes people hurt things while trying to be helpful or without knowing that what they’re doing is harmful. In that case providing educational information may help to stop a bad situation from getting worse. The most egregious example I’ve seen so far was a guy with his kids carrying a fawn on his shoulders, claiming they had found it “abandoned” and were “rescuing” it, clearly intend on trying to raise it at home. They clearly had no idea how deer raise their young and that it’s normal for mothers to hide their fawns and return to them for feeding etc.

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I agree. Sometimes people can be very defensive and even aggressive if you tell them directly, eg I told a guy who was catch and cooking fish in a reserve that it was illegal, and his reply was not particularly pleasant.

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Think of your safety. If it is safe, don’t “tell them off” but be calmly friendly and informative. Expressing anger toward these people won’t educate them not to do it again.

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This is so true. Shaming or berating someone is not an effective way to change their behavior.

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Remember that there are people trained to interact with those that are acting without consideration of community, regional, and national expectations of all kinds including interactions with the natural environment. Even their trained efforts can put them and others in harms way. The more egregious the act the more I would let someone trained do the one on one corrective interaction.

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When I was a kid, I did my fair share of animal harassment (to put it mildly). Someone telling me I shouldn’t do that wouldn’t have helped because I knew I shouldn’t be doing that. Trying to teach an adult that their actions are objectionable will definitely not be a productive way to spend your time. And could get yourself hurt…as others have said. It’s never a good idea to confront anyone…unless someone’s life is in danger.

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I’ve been known to bark “Hey! Knock it off” at kids and a few adults misbehaving. I have that authority figure appearance so it generally works well. I’ve also phoned the real authorities if the situation violates laws or local park rules.

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Some people don’t even realize they are doing something wrong. They may not immediately concede if you talk to them, but if they meet enough people who are against their behavior, their perception may change. I always try to inform people when I see them doing something that I know for sure is harmful - but I also don’t berate them for trivial stuff or when I am not informed enough. For example some people want to tell people off from walking across flowering meadows, but many habitats actively benefit from being walked on by large mammals - which we have mostly killed off, so we have to do the job now.

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It’s ok as far as you are supported by the law or by common sense* and, especially, if you addressing to a behaviour that is possibly outlaw. But it’s risky because, in certain cases, you could have to face armed or unfriendly people.

*: what about with people eradicating a dangerous invasive species? I would say that’s a dilemma

It might be ok, but it may not be wise. People are shooting people for no good reason at all. Before taking matters into you own hands, ask yourself is it worth the risk?

Almost everyone has a cell phone. Almost every cell phone has a camera. I suggest using them to document and report the incident.

Having said that, if I witness someone torturing an animal, I’ll probably stick my nose into their business.

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