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
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.
bear-viewing-in-alaska.info 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
* 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,
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
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
Steve Stringhams, PhD Director - Bear Viewing
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