|Background: Katmai Service Providers (KSP) membership realizes that the commercial bear viewing industry has grown and matured over the last 20+ years and because of the industry growth, we as an organization see the need to develop a commercial bear viewing guide certification program named the “Bear Viewing Guide Excellence Program”. Implementation of this program will be a multi-year endeavor for the KSP organization with the first phase being voluntary for KSP member companies beginning with the 2018 bear viewing season. KSP, as an organization, is committed to continually evolving our viewing techniques and strategies as new research and our experience dictates.
KSP members are encouraged to use this educational program in their employee training. Participating KSP members may state in their communications and advertising that their guides abide by the KSP Guide Excellence standards and practices.
For this first phase we have developed “best practices” guidelines for commercial bear viewing operators. This document reflects the experience of KSP member companies who, collectively, represent thousands of hours and many years of incident free, enjoyable and sustainable bear viewing in various areas in and around Katmai National Park and Preserve. The “best practices” provide bear viewing guides with a template for dealing with bear-people interactions. At Brooks Camp, Geographic Harbor and Hallo Bay site-specific guidelines or regulations already exist to address unique circumstances. KSP intends to cooperate closely with the National Park Service as specific guidelines or protocols are proposed for other areas.
KSP Training Goals
Member companies will strive to meet the KSP goal of safely viewing bears in a natural setting while minimizing impacts on them, and encourage the general public, other operators and film crews to do the same. A bear’s need to forage, rest, or travel should take precedence over viewing activities and guest’s desire to get a closer look or photograph.
• Provide Safe & Educational Services to the Public.
• Promote Consistent Field Practices among Guides.
• Minimize Disturbance to Bears.
• Preserve Viewing Opportunities for Future Users.
The following are considered core skills of guides:
• Sensible approach to safety and good judgement
• Local area knowledge
• Recognition of signs and signals of bear stress
• Reacting appropriately to bear encounters, approaches and attacks
• Technical skills (what are considered necessary) i.e. flying, boat handling, group management, etc.
• First Aid/CPR training
• Ability to carry out an emergency plan using available resources
• Effective nature interpretation, communication & human management skills
• Knowledge of bear biology and area ecology: conservation & management issues.