Can you see it now? The problem.

You finally lay your eyes on the rare orchid you've been looking for, snap the perfect picture, and post the observation on iNaturalist. You revisit the site a week later to see the orchid again and are dismayed to find a shovel hole where the orchid used to be! Could it be that an unscrupulous person has found your observation on iNaturalist and used the location information to find the orchid, dig it up, and bring it home for their personal 'collection'?

One of the great things about iNaturalist is the ability to share all the great things we find with other nature enthusiasts. Whether it's something weird, wild, and wonderful (or all of the above!), sharing that observation with the iNaturalist community is so good in so many ways, and something we at the CDC certainly encourage. However, it's worth keeping in mind that sometimes sharing everything may not be the responsible thing to do.

In addition to the above example, consider the following scenarios:

After a long night of owl surveys, you find a great spot to view the comings and goings of a pair of Great Gray Owls. After adding the observation to iNaturalist you hit the hay for well deserved night's sleep. You find out later that your special spot has been taken over by a crowd of photographers who saw your observation on iNaturalist and are hoping for the perfect picture, much to the chagrin of the owls trying to raise their young in peace.

Or perhaps your neighbours have a nice wooded area on their property and let you hike the woods whenever you'd like. You see some neat things living there and post the observations on iNaturalist. Now your neighbours are swamped with requests by others who want to see the neat things you saw. Even worse, some aren't even asking and are just 'visiting' without permission!

The vast majority of iNaturalist users are upstanding people who would consider the interests of wildlife and landowners and never do such things. But, unfortunately, there's always those few who will use iNaturalist data for less noble purposes.

Thankfully there's a few simple things we can do avoid these situations, but since this entry is getting a bit long, we'll discuss them in the next entry: 'Can you see it now? The solution.'

Posted by manitoba_cdc manitoba_cdc, November 09, 2018 16:02


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