Exam Study Guide for Certification
as a
PROFESSIONAL BEAR NATURALIST/SAFETY GUIDE

Part 1: Ten Golden Rules of Bear Viewing

(Questions are asked in approximately the order that the material is presented on this website).
Bear Naturalist Guide
Certification Manual
Index of  Bear  Webpages
Bear Viewing Association
To watch, to wonder, and to conserve
gobearviewing@hotmail.com
Ph/Fax (907) 260-9059 (Office)
39200 Alma Ave.    Soldotna, AK  99669
bear viewing Alaska, bear photography, bear safety, bear behavior



Answers to questions commonly asked by wildlife viewers on the topics listed below:
Bear Viewing Association
To watch, to wonder, and to conserve
gobearviewing@hotmail.com
Ph/Fax (907) 260-9059 (Office)
39200 Alma Ave.    Soldotna, AK  99669
bear viewing Alaska, bear photography, bear safety, bear behavior
Ten Golden Rules of Bear Viewing
Page   1     2     3     4   Study Guide
List BVA’s Ten Golden Rules of Bear Viewing
.
Summarize the main points of each Golden Rule.

What is the purpose of establishing minimum standards for guiding with respect to safety and impact on bears and their habitat?

What is the Commercial Bear Viewing Association?

If you anticipate having spur of the moment viewing opportunities – e.g., if you regularly travel through bear habitat – how could
you prepare yourself to seize these opportunities without putting yourself at excessive risk?

Name at least two kinds of deterrents that might stop a bear from coming too close and injuring someone?  What are a few
advantages and disadvantages of each?

List 5 questions you should be able to answer before leaving home to view bears.

Summarize the AADD bear safety strategy

In which areas of North America, and with which kinds of bears, is it most important for anyone but a bear safety expert to remain
inaccessible to bears?

Contrast the viewing conditions where are you at least risk vs. at greatest risk?

If you leave an auto to watch a roadside bear, what precautions would tend to minimize your risk?

List at least 3 reasons why bears are especially likely to be seen along roads, especially during spring.

How fast can a bear sprint?

Distinguish between an “improved” vs. an “unimproved” observatory for bears.

How does your risk of injury by a bear vary according to the size of your group?

How is the size of your group affected by the distance between members of your group, and positioning of those people relative
to any bear that could see the group?

What is the optimum range of group sizes for viewing parties?  What is the preferred maximum number of viewers per guide
when viewing is done on foot roving through bear habitat?

When walking through bear habitat, how can you keep your clients sufficiently close together? What might clients do that tends
to spread them out too much?

If there are any children in your group, which extra precautions should be taken to assure their safety around bears?

Define distrust and respect.  Explain how they differ.  For example, if a bear trusts you but does not respect you, how is its
behavior likely to differ from that of a bear that distrusts but respects you?

What are the main benefits of being trusted by bears?

What are the main benefits of being respected by bears?

How does an “acclimated” bear differ from one that merely trusts people?

How does a “spoiled” bear differ from one that is merely “alienated” toward people?

How does  a bear’s level of trust for humans affect the degree to which people can trust it?  How does that vary according to the
bear’s motivation for aggression – i.e., according to the extent that it regards people as threats, rivals for food or space, or as
prey?

What is “neutralization”?  How does it relate to “habituation?”

What is “alpha behavior.”  What is its role in minimizing risk of injury by a bear?

Distinguish between offensive vs. defensive aggression?

At viewing sites, why isn’t “safe” to assume that all bears are highly acclimated?  Does the level of acclimation differ among
individuals?  Does it vary over time for each individual?  

What influences or events might temporarily reduce a bear’s acclimation?  

What influences or events might temporarily reduce acclimation for many of the bears at a viewing site?

If someone in your group has food, who should carry it?  In what kinds of containers?  

If you carry food, for yourself or clients, what could be done to minimize the attractiveness of food to bears?

How should any garbage or food-contaminated containers or trash be carried; by whom?

In which ways do humans sometimes smell like food a bear might want to taste or eat?  What could be done to minimize the
attractiveness of those people to bears?

What is food conditioning?  How does it differ from habituation?

Why is food conditioning commonly dangerous?  List at least 3 ways.

Describe how you would remain wary while viewing bears or traveling to and from a viewing site?

If you are hiking, but have not yet seen a bear in that area, what signs (spoor) should a professional guide look for to determine
whether any have been there recently – e.g., using the same trail you are using?

When you are hiking to or from a viewing site, what should you be doing to watch for bears, so that you detect any bear before
you get so close that it will be seriously stressed and perhaps flee or threaten you?

When you are within 200 yards of a bear, what should you be watching for, even as you attend to your clients?

What is “tunnel vision?”  Give an example of tunnel vision while hiking and one while viewing.

How might wind direction and strength affect risk of surprise close encounters?

If a bear detects you approaching, what factors might make it reluctant to move away from you and from your line of travel?

What can you do to help bears detect you from afar without spooking those that would normally be tolerant of viewers within
photographic range?

What is the role of predictability in minimizing risk of bear-inflicted injury and of viewers disturbing bears?

What are the major advantages of approaching a bear out in the open when it can see you before and after you get within 200
yards of it?  What are the major disadvantages?  How does the minimum distance at which a bear should be able to see you
depend on it level of acclimation?  What is a reasonable minimum for grizzly/brown of polar bears that aren’t acclimated?

What are the major advantages of viewing from a site where bears can see you and vice versa?  What are the major
disadvantages?

Most predatory attacks by grizzly/brown bears occur after dark, usually where someone is camped, and perhaps inside a tent or
sleeping bag.  Risk of predatory attack may be lower for people who are viewing at night – e.g., by starshine and moonlight or
with artificial lighting.  But what other risks might be increased by viewing at night?

What behavior by a bear, including body language and sounds, might indicate that a bear is distressed?  What signs would
reveal whether it is distressed by your presence or behavior?

While approaching a bear, how quickly should you move toward it?  How does your optimum speed vary according to your
distance from the bear?

What is a direct approach toward a bear?  Contrast it to an “angled” approach and to a “zig zag” approach?  Should you chose
one method or the other according to your distance from the bear and its behavior toward you?  How should it change?

As you approach a bear, if it appears distracted, but not distressed, how should that affect your behavior?  Should you keep
approaching immediately, or only after a delay?  When should the delay end?

As you approach a bear, if it appears distressed, how should that affect your behavior?  Should you keep approaching
immediately, or only after a delay?  When should the delay end?

If you ignore signs of distraction and keep advancing directly toward a bear, how is this likely to affect your viewing experience
with that bear?

If you ignore signs of distress and keep advancing directly toward a bear, how is this likely to affect your viewing experience with
that bear?

What are major advantages of being able to distinguish bears as individuals?  How does it affect safety, your opportunities to
explain bear behavior to your clients, and client satisfaction?

At what point should you stop approaching a bear and let it decide whether it is comfortable being closer to you?

How close is too close?  What do government regulations or guidelines specify?  How does proximity to a bear affect risk of
accidental conflicts with the bear?  How does proximity to one bear or family affect risk of conflict with other bears?

If a bear starts coming too close, but does not seem aggressive, what are some methods of gently halting its approach?  What
are some more decisive methods?

If some bears in your viewing area are especially shy of people, how should you adjust your viewing so as to not distress the
bear or deprive it of opportunities to meet its needs for food, etc. in that location (e.g., along a salmon stream or clam bed)?  
Consider distance, visibility, wind direction, time of day, the presence of other bears, the presence of other people, and location
of escape routes and cover.

Explain major ways in viewing methods and perhaps distances differ according to whether you are afoot or in a boat or other
vehicle while viewing bears.

Distinguish between crowding a bear and trespass.  Can you trespass on a spot or in an area even when the bear is not there,
even if it might be nearby?  Give one example.

If you retreat when a bear approaches you in an aggressive manner, but the bear keeps pursuing, but not circling around you, it
is most likely to be predatory or territorial?

What does it mean for an animal to be “territorial?”

What is “photographic distance”?  Is it a specific distance (e.g., 100 yards) or a range of distances?  How does it relate to the
power of the lenses in your camera or binoculars?

Suppose that there are 60 people viewing bears in a large open meadow (e.g., at Hallo Bay, in Katmai National Park.  Do bears
tend to be more stressed or less stressed when all of those people are in one large group vs. in say 10 scattered groups?  Why?

If you bring a group into an area where there is at least one other group also viewing, what would be the advantages of moving
alongside one of those groups?  What would be the disadvantages?

What are the advantages of viewers wearing brightly colored clothing?  What is one major disadvantage?

Under what circumstances is it appropriate for viewing groups to rotate at a viewing site?  What would be an appropriate interval
for rotations?

What are some of the main reasons why people view bears?  What do they want to get out of the experience?  How can you as a
guide learn their goals?  How can you accommodate different goals for people within a single group?  Think in terms of
conversation and other noise; amount of movement by the people; suddenness of their movement?  Positioning of the people
within your group.  Whether they are standing, seated, or lying down.

As a guide, what can you do to assure that the viewers who follow after you and your group will have viewing opportunities at
least as good as your own?

What else can you do to protect the bears as individuals and as a population?

What can you do to protect their habitat – i.e., the ecosystem – upon which they depend?

Under what circumstances is it appropriate to try bending a bear to your will – i.e., dominating it, controlling its behavior?  Under
what other circumstances is that inappropriate?
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(c) 2016 S. Stringham