As a black birdwatcher and professional nature photographer, his presence with a camera can arouse suspicion among white people.
Edmondson spoke to CNN about racism in the wilderness in the wake of Christian Cooper’s experience in Central Park on Monday morning, when a minor dispute over an unleashed dog led a white woman to call police and falsely claim “an African American man is threatening my life.”
Several black birdwatchers said that Cooper’s experience was an extreme example of a common situation in which they are made to feel unwelcome while out in public, natural spaces.
Drew Lanham, a Clemson University professor of wildlife ecology and a fellow black birdwatcher, said he’s gotten threats or intimidation from others that made him wary.
Edmondson said when he heard about a black birdwatcher’s racist experience in Central Park, he initially thought it was Jason Ward, a black birdwatcher who hosts a show called “Birds of North America.”