Wildlife police acquire special dogs to handle bear complaints

Feb 27, 2012

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has increased its Karelian Bear Dog force by fifty percent. This breed of working dog has proven effective against nuisance bears. The idea is to re-instill fear of human neighborhoods.

The acquisition of two puppies brings to six the number of Karelian Bear Dogs on the job with Washington game wardens. Captain Bill Hebner says the specialized breed was used for hundreds of years in bear hunting in Finland and Russia.

Now the medium-sized dogs are used here for a slightly different purpose. Hebner says an encounter with this fierce and fearless dog can re-educate unwelcome black bears.

"These dogs are aggressive," Hebner says. "They'd like to get at the bear if they could. The bear senses that. He begins to think he made a mistake coming down for an easy meal."

Washington Fish & Wildlife is the only agency in the Northwest using Karelian Bear Dogs. The program has to be funded entirely with private donations because money is short in state government.

On the Web: WDFW Karelian Bear Dog gallery