Bear Naturalist Guide
Certification Manual
Index of  Bear  Webpages
Bear Viewing Association
To watch, to wonder, and to conserve
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
Ph/Fax (907) 260-9059 (Office)
39200 Alma Ave.    Soldotna, AK  99669
bear viewing Alaska, bear photography, bear safety, bear behavior
Guest Education on Safety & Natural History
Risk Management
This page was copied almost verbatim from the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of British Columbia to serve as a starting point
for a comparable statement by BVA.

"The success of any bear viewing operation is enhanced by well-informed and respectful guests. This, in turn, requires effective
education information and knowledgeable and conscientious staff.

All operators will strive to add interpretative value to their trips. The education component in guided trips will be given strong weight.
To this end, staff will not only possess high levels of knowledge of bear ecology but be skilled at imparting that knowledge to guests
using the principles of nature interpretation.
Any information that guides can provide that increases people’s understanding of bears can increase guest’s appreciation and
respect for bears. Guests are more likely to follow viewing guidelines if they understand the negative implications to bears and other
wildlife of ignoring them.

In addition, member companies will strive to educate, where and when possible, other user groups, including private travelers and
commercial bear viewing operators not part of the association, in the methods and philosophy of sustainable bear viewing. As such,
the CBVA will strive to be ambassadors for the industry.

Guest Safety & Education Briefing

All bear viewing guests will be given a safety and education briefing that emphasizes the following points. Additional information will
be provided to guests depending whether viewing is boat-based or land-based, as noted at the bottom of this page.

General Safety

•        Guides will accompany guests during all outings.

•        Guests are required to stay close to the guide at all times.

•        Guests will be warned to dress warmly whenever venturing out, particularly when they may be occupying a viewing
site away from camp for several hours.

•        Guests will be encouraged to try to keep dry in cold and wet weather, particularly their underclothes and socks.

•        The safety procedure should the guide or one of the guests be injured.

Safety Around Bears

•        What is food-conditioning in bears and why it is essential to minimize the chance bears will be exposed to human
food, garbage or other attractants.

•        When it is necessary to carry food and beverages for longer outings, the food and any resulting garbage will be packed
in air-tight or bear-proof containers and be kept with the guide at all times.

•        The expected action of guests when at viewing areas.

•        The potential risks associated with viewing bears at close range.

•        The type of bear encounters guests should expect.

•        The risk of an unwanted or unplanned bear encounter.

•        How guests should behave during an unwanted bear encounter.

•        The first line of defense in the event that something goes wrong.

•        The emergency procedure should the guide or one of the guests be incapacitated by a bear.


•        An overview of local bear ecology.

•        An overview of local ecology in general.

•        What are tolerance, human-habituation, and wariness in a bear.

•        The importance of minimizing displacement of bears from important habitat.

•        Why there are restrictions on movement to and within bear viewing areas.

•        Noise and movement while viewing bears shall be kept to a minimum.

•        Smoking is not permitted while viewing bears.

•        Photographic flash devices are not permitted when viewing or photographing bears.

•        Guests are not to signal to the bears in any way using hand motions or auditory signals.

•        Bears may be affected by such things as strong smelling perfumes or deodorants so guests should avoid using them.

Boat-based Viewing

•        Guests must wear Personal Flotation Devices (PFD's) at all times when in inflatable craft, small vessels, or kayaks.

•        Operators will adhere to all current" US Coast Guard small vessel safety regulations”, where a small vessel is
defined as a vessel under ____ yards.

Land-based Viewing

•       "Guests must stay on established pathways and trails.

•        Guests will be warned to stay alert and aware of conditions underfoot, as well as, hanging branches, rocks, logs and roots."
(c) 2016 S. Stringham