The CBVA is committed to continuing to evolve and develop our industry by updating our viewing techniques and strategies as new research and our experience dictates, developing best practices and developing a guide certification program. We also help fund important, professional research on human-bear interactions.
CBVA members have established a set of Best Management Practices and Code of Conduct for the bear viewing industry, in consultation with industry, government and bear biologists and based on the best science available. They have been put in place to safeguard both guests and bears and ensure the sustainability of bear viewing in BC.
Our best practices have evolved in an adaptive context. What does that mean? Basically it starts with the premise that we as operators desire to have as minimal an impact on bears as we can. Twenty years ago when some of our members pioneered this industry in BC there were no guidelines and very little research on how to safely view bears in the wild. These companies would try a technique or strategy designed for low impact viewing and if they saw a negative outcome (i.e., a stressed bear) they would modify their viewing behaviour and start again. Over many years of this adaptive viewing, our members have evolved techniques and strategies that we believe are highly effective. These techniques allow our members to offer guests a quality viewing experience while minimizing impact on the environment and the bears. Click here to see our Best Practices.
The CBVA has developed a bear viewing guide certification system. There are two levels to the guide certification: Assistant Guide and Full Guide. To become a full guide a candidate must first gain certification as an assistant guide through a comprehensive training course, and then have 60 days of field experience working with bears under the supervision of a Full Guide. Member companies will endeavour to hire only certified guides possessing certification from the Commercial Bear Viewing Association of British Columbia.
The CBVA undertakes advocacy on behalf of it member companies in the areas of land access and management. The CBVA works with government, First Nations and other stake holder groups to secure a land base for bears and bearviewing operations.
Wild bears face many threats to their long-term survival. One of the biggest threats to survival of the grizzly bear in particular is habitat loss. We are actively working with conservation groups, scientists, and government to come up with solutions that will allow us to live in better harmony with these magnificent creatures.
One threat to bears that we as an organization have been dealing with is the lifting of a moratorium on trophy hunting of grizzlies in BC. Others have taken up the ethical arguments about killing bears for sport. Scientists continue to debate the population arguments. We are in a position to put forth some compelling economic arguments. Studies have shown that the bear viewing industry contributes overwhelmingly more to the provincial treasury than all of the grizzly hunting businesses combined. The problem is that hunters shoot a bear once whereas our guests shoot the same bear a thousand times with their cameras. And both hunter and photographer are often seeking the big male bears that may tip the scales at 400 kilograms or more. So the big bear that our guests photograph a thousand times in the spring may be a hunter's one shot trophy in the fall.
If you'd like to do more, consider donating money to the Commercial Bear Viewing Association. You can earmark your donation specifically for research or conservation and you can be assured that we will make your donation make a difference for bears in British Columbia.