How can you find a guide who is an expert on minimizing your risk while viewing bears -- i.e., one with long practice employing
effective precautions -- one who knows how to judge the mood and intentions of bears by reading their body language, and who
knows how to respond to each mood or intention -- be it curious, playful or aggressive?  Choose a guide certified by BVA.

Where could you find a certified guide?  Most are self-employed. They specialize in bears and perhaps other wildlife, not in
business, and certainly not in marketing. So don’t expect an independent guide to catch your attention the way a tour company
does, using a snazzy website or contacts with travel agents.   Independent guides won’t chase you down to get your business. You
have to meet them half-way – for instance through this website.

Of course, if you book your tour through a lodge, your package will likely include guide services, as well as transportation, meals, and
lodging.   Likewise, if you book a single-day tour through a water- or air-taxi service, your pilot will likely also be your guide, and may
provide your lunch or snacks.  

Some viewers are satisfied with that.  If you don't know much about bears or other animals, and their habitat, then a pilot who doubles as
a guide may provide all the information about wildlife that you can absorb in a few hours.  And if viewing takes place where the bears are
highly acclimated to people, a typical pilot's limited knowledge of bear behavior will likely suffice to keep you safe.

However, just as the main qualifications of an airplane pilot should be expertise in flying, the main qualifications of a bear viewing guide
should be expertise in bear behavior and safety.   Just as thousands of hours of airtime are needed to cope with emergencies while flying
in the Alaskan wilderness, so too thousands of hours observing bears are necessary to know how to assure your safety when things go
wrong -- for instance if you run into a bear like the one which killed Tim Treadwell and his fiance Amie Huguenard.  

If you want to really learn about bears, or to venture where bears are less tolerant, then we strongly advise securing the services of a
guide who has lived with these animals for night and day for years, researching, photographing, or filming them.   

This is exactly the kind of guides BVA certifies -- the very best in the business.  Although BVA guides tend to be highly knowledgeable
and skillful,  each has  areas of particular expertise -- for example, bear behavior, plants, photography, or piloting the plane or boat that
carries clients to a viewing site. If you want to learn a lot about wildlife, pick an expert in natural history who gives field courses.  If you
mainly want to take photos, but are not already an expert, pick a guide who provides a photo workshop.  BVA guides are listed
Certified Guides


Kent’s been camping with the bears and wolves of Alaska since 1994, having logged an amazing 111 weeks of in the field
camping experience.  He’s been a licensed outfitter and bear viewing guide since 1999.  Thus it is safe to say that if you had
to choose a guide to camp with in Katmai National Park who could show you all the choice locations that these bears
frequent Kent is your man.  In addition to being an expert grizzly bear guide Kent is also an accomplished photographer as
you can see from many the photo’s included on his website
.  His wildlife photography has been published on the cover of Alaska magazine, Outdoor Life magazine, National
Geographic kids books, and each of Dr. Stringham's books.  Kent has also won "first in show" on two occasions in the
Homer, Alaska shore birds festival.  He is fluent in both English and Swedish.    Email him at or
phone him at + 46 76 795 9655  SKYPE # grizzlycamper.

Buck Wilde, is professional photographer and cinematographer, and writer, and professional guide, with over 20 years in the
field.  He is renown not only for his own photography, but for his skill at coaching clients to help obtain prize-winning photos.  
He is author of numerous natural history books for kids.  He and Kent sometimes team up to do workshops.  Buck's
Facebook site is under his name.  You can contact him at
filmmaker-quotes/ and at
208-440-7785 or  According to his website:  "Buck Wilde is a wildlife
behaviorist documenting survival strategies of bears and wolves in the Alaska wilderness where a face-to-face encounter can
unfold suddenly. When Great Bear Stakeout (BBC Worldwide, Discovery Channel) filmmakers were challenged by a 1,200
pound grizzly they called Van, Buck and his camera crew were able to ‘talk’ the one-eared bruiser into backing off by
communicating with a body language cue used among bears. When confronted by wolves, he’s learned the same cue takes
on a different meaning in the wild canine psyche and can invite further engagement.  Buck’s next filmmaking adventure,
Talking with Bears, Dancing with Wolves explores wilderness survival at the top of the food chain to discover what unarmed
hunter-gatherers may have learned from canine and ursine foraging strategies and how they negotiated face-to-face
encounters with these apex predators."

Steve, Buck, Kent, and John occasionally guide for Katmai Coastal Bear Tours -- the first choice host of most major movie
production companies doing bear documentaries: BBC, Blue Planet, National Geographic, Disney, Nova, Nature and many
others.  To contact Katmai Coastal Bear Tours, call 1-800-532-8338 and speak to John Rogers.


Brad previously guided for Katmai Coastal Bear tours, but now works full time for Natural Habitat.  He is one of the most
broadly experienced bear guides in the business, having taken people to see grizzly bears in Alaska, polar bears in Canada,
sun bears in Borneo, and panda bears in China -- homes also to a variety of other wildlife.  His Facebook site is under his
Master 2 Guide, Dr. Stephen Stringham
Master 1 Guide, Kent Fredriksson
Master 1 Guide, Buck Wilde
Master 1 Guide, Brad Josephs

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
Captain John Rogers
Owner, Katmai Coastal Bear Tours
Master 1 Guide, Dr. Lynn Rogers
Dr. Rogers began studying bears in his home state of Michigan in 1967, moving black bears away from campgrounds and residential
areas for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. In fall 1969, he moved to northeastern Minnesota and began a broad,
ecological study of black bears as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota. By 1975, Rogers' bear study was ranked one of the
four top studies of large mammals in the world, along with studies by Jane Goodall, Brian Bertram, and Ian Hamilton. Professor E. O.
Wilson of Harvard University wrote, "
A new level of resolution has been attained, in which free-ranging individuals are tracked from
birth through socialization, parturition, and death, and their idiosyncrasies, personal alliances, and ecological relationships recorded in
clinical detail.
"  The study became even more detailed in the next two decades. Rogers formed trusting relationships with wild black
bears, including mothers with cubs, and spent 24-hour periods walking and resting with these intelligent animals, detailing their activities,
diet, ecology, social organization, vocalizations, and more, pioneering much of the scientific information on black bear behavior available
today. Discoveries continue as Rogers and his assistants develop new research techniques focusing on how we can better coexist with
black bears in their increasingly urbanized environment. Rogers works tirelessly to educate the public and decision-makers about bears.
As part of that effort, he and his wife Donna Marie founded the North American Bear Center featuring many excellent photos they took
BVA certification attests that a guide has demonstrated at least the minimum level of knowledge which BVA Master Guide-instructors have found
-- through personal experience or communication with other experts -- to minimize risk to guides and viewers in the situations specified for each
level of certification.  Certification is not a guarantee that the guide will successfully utilize said knowledge, or that said knowledge will suffice to
prevent bear aggression, whether at the level of threat, minor assault, or serious attack.  There are too many factors beyond a guide's control,
and beyond an instructor's ability to predict, for BVA or its instructors to assume any liability for any other sort of responsibility for the success of
its program to prevent harm of any sort to any human or animal.  
Read more
Dr. Stringham has researched bear behavior and ecology since 1969; he has written numerous scientific papers and several
books; he has also produced videos.  He has been featured in TV documentaries such as National Geographic, Xpedition
Awesome Planet, and Wild Things. He has guided film crews for those companies, as well as several others including BBC, Blue
Planet, Nature, and Nova.  Known as a charismatic speaker and story-teller, Steve gives nearly 200 public talks per year.  They
are a spell-binding blend of high adventure, delightful humor and natural history insight -- from the perspectives of mainstream
science,  Zen and Indigenous cultures.  But hearing his words is just the start.  Beyond words are experiences, as you come to
know bears firsthand in ways you never dreamed possible -- ways that no other guide can match.  

Steve has taught in several colleges and universities, and now conducts field courses.  If you want to learn about the behavior,
life history, ecology, evolution and conservation of bears and other wildlife, including marine biology, he is the guide for you.  He
has also served as a lead scientist in several major bear conservation wars, and as a scientific consultant to Native American
tribes and organizations, corporations, NGOs, and government agencies.  He critiques wildlife management plans and serves as
an expert witness in court cases against those who mismanage wildlife, degrade habitat, or create unnecessary conflicts with
wildlife.  He is fluent in both English and German.  You can read his background at
He can be contacted at  His facebook site is "Steve Stringham.".  This website is filled with his
photos.  He guides for Redoubt Bay Lodge, WildWatch, Katmai Coastal Bear Tours, Bearadise Tours, and Bear Central Lodge.
(c) 2016 S. Stringham