The Story of the Karelian Bear Dog


  The Karelian Bear Dog is a breed originating from Finland and used for hunting big game, especially brown bears. The hunters use them to find a bear and bay it up, or   hold it, for the hunter who can then take his game. The KBD is not meant to attack the game, simply hold it or flush it for the hunter.  This innate ability to work with a   bear is now used to keep them out of trouble!

  The Wind River Bear Institute introduced the idea of using the KBD as a non-lethal bear management tool in the mid-1990s. Since then, multiple wildlife agencies         across the US have embraced their use, along with  Canada and Japan. The Nevada Department of Wildlife was one of the very first agencies to recognize their use as a     non-lethal option in bear management.  Carl Lackey got his first KBD in 2001 and established NDOW’s  Karelian Bear Dog Program!

The KBD has many roles in bear management, but the most important one is to help bear managers give bears a negative experience around humans and dogs.  Bears that get into conflict with people are usually getting  rewarded by garbage, bird seed, and other attractants around human-inhabited areas.  When one of these bears is captured, it is tagged by   managers and then released, usually on-site where it was captured.  When that bear is released, people are yelling at it, it is being hit by rubber bullets and then the KBDs go to work, chasing the bear, sometimes biting it on the butt and running it up a tree.  All of this helps a bear think twice the next  time a human yells at it or a dog barks at it!  It is very successful with keeping bears from getting more pronounced in their conflict behavior. 

That’s not all the KBDs do for bear managers, though!  They can help find injured bears, orphaned cubs, flush bears from homes and help bear managers find winter dens for research.   It is also a flaw in the breed to be aggressive toward humans, so they make wonderful ambassadors.  

Meet NDOW’s Bear Dog Team below and if you ever see them in their trucks, make sure to ask to say hello!  They love their fans! 

For more information about the role bear dogs play watch this seminar by Rich Beausoleil, co-founder of the Karelian Bear Dog Program in Washington.

Meet NDOW's Bear Team

The Newest Members 

 Kondii Karelian Bear Dog  Gimbal

Born 11/6/2017, Gimbal's sister, female, weighs around 12 pounds? Specialties... we dunno yet! She's just a baby... but she's quite a fearless one.

Born 11/6/2017, Kondii's brother, weighs around 15 pounds. Specialties... we dunno yet! He's just a baby... but he can sure use his nose.

Born 7/4/2017, 65 lbs 
Banjo is very confident and alert. He loves other dogs and kids!
The Veterans
 Rooster Updated  Dazzle Updated

Born 8/25/2005, 65lbs

Rooster is extremely confident around bears.  He has assisted with the capture and/or release of over 500 bears. 
Sired offspring that are working or have worked for Washington Dept of Fish and Wildlife, California Department of Fish and Game, The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, Alaska Fish and Game, and various Search and Rescue operators.
 Also sired two dogs that are working on Asiatic black bear conflicts in Japan.  He has been the heart and soul of our bear program since 2005.

Born 3/25/2014, 55lbs

Dazzle is overflowing with love for kids and attention. She is featured in a documentary for German television.


Orca Sputnik
 Orca  Sputnik
Born 9/15/2008, 48 lbs
Rooster's daughter, Sputnik's sister
Orca is the best bear butt biter around!
Born 9/15/2008, 54 lbs
Rooster's son, Orca's brother
Sputnik is a champion barker! He is great with flushing bears and tracking.
The Original Nevada Bear Dog
Stryker Snowmobile
3/28/2001- 4/1/2014
Srtyker was the first KBD in Nevada- the one that started in all. He assisted with the capture and/or relase of more than 500 bears. He even rode snowmobiles, ATVs, chairlifts and helicopters to get to bears.
Learn more about Stryker and his work as Nevada's originial bear dog.

Make a Donation to the NDOW Bear Dog Team

Since its inception in 2001 Nevada’s Karelian Bear Dog (KBD) program has been paid for by Department employees with personal funds as there has been no state generated funding for the KBD program. We would like to expand the program to include two more dogs that would be used for bear conflicts/bear education & outreach, cougar conflicts and evidence searches. In addition, we would like to have pet insurance on these dogs as well as a fund to assist in their care and maintenance.

If you would like to make a financial contribution to our KBD program and help our Karelian Bear Dogs protect wildlife please mail a check or money order to:

Nevada Department of Wildlife
1100 Valley Road
Reno, NV 89512
Attn – Karelian Bear Dogs

Rooster and Dazzle thank you!

Rooster and Stryker were featured in a 11-part National Geographic series called Animal Extractors. You can also see them in action on The Wildlife Portal.