Tabs at the top of this page link you to a wide range of information tailored for answering questions frequently asked
by wildlife viewers..

For each level of certification, a study guide is provided.  The guide is made up of potential exam questions.  These
questions will be listed in roughly the order that the corresponding material appears in study materials so that they
can guide the applicant through that material, emphasizing the most important points.

Study guide for
Apprentice Guide
Professional Guide
Master Guide

The actual questions to be answered by the applicant during the exam will be drawn from the study guide.  

BVA does not require that all answers to safety questions for Master guides match those that we
provided in our teaching materials.  if the applicant believes that he/she has an alternative answer that is
just as valid, BVA will consider that answer and judge its merit as fairly as possible.  We fully realize that
each person has his/her own set of experiences and that this can lead to different conclusions.  
Certification is essentially documentation that you have convinced these peers that you have achieved at
least a specified minimum level of expertise.  

BVA does not, however, assume any liabilty or provide any guarantee that you will always make the right
choices when dealing with bears.  We can't even make that guarantee for ourselves.


BVA Books (to preview a book click on its title)

BVA has been collecting guiding knowledge for the past decade.  Those insights have been incorporated into
several books which can be used as texts.  Those texts can be revised periodically as our collective knowledge
advances.  The following books were authored by Dr. Stephen F. Stringham, PhD, an expert on bear behavior

Diplomatic Strategy for Bear Safety

  • Beauty Within the Beast: Tells of BVA Director Dr. Stephen Stringham's experiences mentoring three
    oprhaned cubs in the wilds of Alaska (the cubs were never captive).  This book is not only filled with insights
    about bear behavior and ecology, but it provides readers with an intimate sense of what it is like to know bears
    as fellow beings -- which is one type of experience that many viewers hunger for. by Stephen F.  Stringham,  
    2002.   WildWatch Publ.  (Apprentice guides)

  •  Ghost Grizzlies and Other Rare Bruins: The Art and Adventure of Knowing Wild Bears. Helps you explain to
    clients how to identify bears not only by species, but also be sex, age or maturity, and as individuals.  For
    example, if you find the urine track of a bear, how do you tell whether it was made by a male or a female bear?  
    (This book will soon be available as an eBook on Amazon. by Stephen F. Stringham, 2010, WildWatch Publ.  
    (Apprentice, Professional and Master guides)  

  • Bear Viewing in Alaska:  This book describes most of the bear viewing sites in North America, with greatest
    detail on Alaskan sites.  This information will be of particular interest to clients interested in comparing among
    sites.  Much of the information in that book is elsewhere on this website.  (Professional and Master 1 guides)     
    Stephen F. Stringham,  2010, WildWatch Publ.

  • Alaska Magnum Bear Safety Manual:   Don’t Risk Your Life to Live Your Dreams of Fishing,
    Hunting, Hiking, Camping or  Watching Wildlife in the Far North. Teaches basic techniques for
    avoiding unwanted bear encounters, for instance while hiking, fishing, hunting, camping, or watching bears or
    other wildlife. It also introduces novice techniques for coping with both unwanted encounters and viewing
    opportunities.   by Stephen F. Stringham,   2008.  WildWatch Publ. (Professional and Master 1 guides)

  • When Bears Whisper, Do You Listen? Negotiating Close Encounters With Wild Bruins. Teaches more
    advanced ways of behaving around bears to avoid provoking or disturbing them.  by Stephen F. Stringham,  
    2009.  WildWatch Publ.  (Professional and Master 1 guides)

  • The Language of Bears: Communication is the Key to Coexistence.  (book not yet completed) will
    describe the postures, gestures, facial expressions, and sounds utilized by bear, as well as background
    information on communication by scent.  It will explain the mean and function of each signal, as best we have
    been able to discover them. Stephen F. Stringham, (book not yet completed) WildWatch Publ.  (Master Guides 2-4)

  • Bear Aggression:  Why Some Bears Attack and How to Avoid It.  will present (a) detailed accounts of
    each type of aggression, (b) your options for responding, and (c) flow charts showing how encounters might
    progress depending on the type of aggression and how you respond.   by Stephen F. Stringham,  (book not yet
    completed).  WildWatch Publ. (Master Guide 3-4 )

by Terry DeBruyn, Lyons Press.

by Charlie Russell & Maureen Enns.   Hutchinson, in association with Random House, Canada.

Militant Strategy for Bear Safety

PowerPoint Presentations

  • Bear-wise Living at Home
  • Avoiding Unwelcome Bear Encounters in the Wilds
  • Bear-wise Hiking in Alaska
  • Negotiating Close Encounters With Wild Bears


Mentors are guides who have already achieved the given level of certification and who are willing to share their knowledge and
skills to help you fill any gaps in your own.  Some might accompany you into the field to observe and document your knowledge
and skills, and to explain what has or has not worked for them in similar situations.  To make mentoring as inexpensive and as
efficient as possible, it should be done under the toughest conditions typical of the level of expertise to be confirmed.
Information Sources
  • Backcountry Bear Basics.  Smith, David.  2006.   Mountaineers Press

  • Outwitting Bears.  Brown, Gary.   2001.   Lyons Press.  (Update and expansion of his book Safe Travel in Bear

  • Bear Aware. Sneider, Bill.  1996.   Falcon Press.

  • Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance.  Herrero, Steve.  1985/2002.  Lyons Press.

  • Living With Bears.  L. Masterson.  2006.  PixyJack Press.

  • Bear Attacks: Their Causes and Avoidance.  Herrero, Steve.  1985/2002.


Bear Viewing Association

International Bear Association
Staying Safe in Bear Country

Working Safe in Bear Country

Polar Bears: A Guide to Safety
Bear Attacks & How to Avoid Them
Body Language and Social Behavior of Bears That Are NOT Aggressive -- i.e., Bears Acting Normally

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
(c) 2016 S. Stringham