Bear Kinship

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Successful Bear Advocacy Through Positive Educational Outreach
From Steve Stringham, PhD Director - Bear Viewing Association - 6 Mar 2008

Hello All: Yes, efforts by the Alaska Wildlife Alliance and other organizations and individuals convinced the Game Board not to allow hunting within McNeil ... Game Sanctuary.

Actually, many of us involved in "winning" that battle aren't sure that the Board ever expected to go through with the hunt within the Sanctuary. Rather, their goal seems to be using that threat as a ploy to leverage public acceptance of hunting in the strip of State land at Douglas Head between the Sanctuary and Katmai National Park.

As you may know, hunting has always been legal on another strip of land on the northern boundary of the Park, known as the Katmai National Preserve. We had a big controversy about that last fall when a bow-hunter shot a sow that was used to sitting down peacefully near people. The Game Board and the hunting organizations (Safari Club and Outdoor Council) in Alaska, as well as groups totally outside Alaska, seem to consider that "fair chase." They argue that if "we" don't want those bears shot, don't "habituate" them to people, keep them "wild."

Actually, the argument is fallacious, given that bears remain wild even when they trust and respect people. Although the Game Board is doing nothing to stop hunting these incredibly trusting Katmai bears, the "Katmai Service Providers" organization, which includes several bear viewing tour companies, have met with the individual (Native) who holds the hunting guide rights for that area, so that future conflicts can be minimized. I don't know the outcome of that meeting. The Bear Viewing Association was created to promote conservation of viewable bears and of bear viewing opportunities, while keeping people safe. If you would care to join and help in the effort, let me know.

BVA's website has hundreds of pages of information on where bears can be viewed, and other useful info. (The site is constantly being upgraded, so be patient if one of your favorite viewing areas isn't addressed in as much detail as you like).

You are free to contribute comments on your viewing experiences which can be posted on the appropriate (by topic) blog. You photos can be posted on our photo gallery.

We have published 3 books and have 3 more in the works. We have also produced 2 videos. The published books and videos can be seen on the website by clicking on the "Books and Videos" button. WHEN YOU BUY BOOKS FROM BVA, ALL PROFITS GOTO HELPING BEARS, NOT FATTENING THE POCKETS OF CORPORATIONS.

* Beauty Within the Beast: Kinship With Bears in the Alaska Wilderness: (My experiences raising orphaned cubs and helping them learn to fend for themselves in the Alaska wilds. This teaches a lot about bear psychology and behavior that you won't find anywhere else.

* Bear Viewing in Alaska: Expert Tips for a Great Adventure: Basic info on where, when and how to view bears.

* The 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. (We like to think of this as the most up-to-date reference on bear safety techniques in general, as well as the only book tailored to salmon-country bears and to bear viewers.)

* Grizzlies Among the Glaciers: 45 min video on bear social relationships, including communication.

* Wolverine Creek Wildlife Adventures: 75 min video on bear social relationships and predation (on salmon, ducks, beaver, etc.).

The forthcoming books are:
* Ghost Grizzlies & Other Rare Bruins: The Art & Adventure of Identifying Wild Bears (Explains how to distinguish among bear species, sexes, ages, reproductive status, and individuals.)

* When Bears Whisper Do You Listen? Negotiating Close Encounters With A Most Amazing Creature. (Teaches you how to communicate with bears view body language and sound; how to win the trust and respect of bears; and how to safely approach bears or respond as they approach you.

* Bear Aggression: Why Bears Occasionally Attack and How Not to Become Their Victim. (Teaches about bear-bear aggression and its implications for understanding and avoiding bear-human aggression, as well as detailed info on coping with aggressive bears). The latter advice picks up where we left off in The Alaska Magnum Bear Safety Manual. It has a handful of cases where someone was mauled, but its focus is cases where people successfully negotiated the confrontation, preferably without having to shoot the bear.)

Thanks again for your support to stopping hunting within McNeill Sanctuary. Please help us win to broader battles too, and thus the war.

Donations are deeply appreciated. In addition to our need for cash, we need 2 laptop PCs, 2 desktop PCs, and a recent Mac for video editing, as well as a High Def camcorder and 8+ MP digital still camera.

Steve Stringhams, PhD Director - Bear Viewing Association

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