Category Archives: Karelian Bear Dog

How the Karelian Bear Dog is Saving Wildlife

Mishka meets an abandoned bear cub

By Linda Cole

Humans have raised, bred and trained dogs to perform specific jobs for centuries. Canines have been used to guard flocks, homes and families, and to perform tricks to amuse us. There are even wildlife detection dogs. When we use the talents of dogs, it not only makes a job we have to do easier, it can also be the most effective way of taking care of a problem. A biologist working for the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife decided to combat a bear problem by utilizing one of the most efficient solutions to wandering bears – the Karelian Bear Dog. With the help of this brave dog breed, wildlife is being saved, and people are better protected.

The Karelian Bear Dog (KBD) is a rare and ancient breed native to Finland. They were bred to hunt elk, lynx, cougar, deer, moose, boar and bear. This fearless dog is ready to fiercely fight to the death to protect his owner, if necessary. This isn’t a breed that likes to share his human with other dogs, and is dog aggressive. Nor is this a breed for someone who doesn’t know how to properly train and control a powerful dog.

Mishka is ready to go to work!

The Karelian Bear Dog is a natural hunter with a high prey drive, picking up both air and ground scents. A medium sized dog, standing 19 to 23 inches and weighing 40 to 65 pounds, the KBD is independent, extremely loyal, tough and an intelligent guard dog. The Karelian Bear Dog has no problem standing up to large prey, and he will not back down.

Anytime wildlife officials can find nonlethal methods to deal with problem predators getting too close to where humans live, it’s a good thing for the environment, the animals and people. The KBD is capable of dealing with a Grizzly bear, but Washington State primary uses the dogs to control black bear. A pilot program in 2007 was set up with one dog, Mishka, and his handler, WDFW Officer Bruce Richards. It didn’t take long for both of them to prove their worth by effectively dealing with complaints about problem bears.

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