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
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
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!
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.
|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
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.