This story is courtesy of Kiro 97.3FM News Anchor, Kim Shepard, who found out how Washington’s Department of Fish and Wildlife is using Bear Dogs in a new way to deal with problem bears. You can click the link at the end of the story to hear her live report from yesterday’s ride along through Snoqualmie Ridge neighborhoods where the bears are active this spring. Thank you for sharing this great story, Kim.
Bears are now starting to venture out of their dens after a long winter’s nap, and many are finding themselves attracted to the sweet smells of neighborhood garbage.
But if they wander too close, there is a good chance they will be met by one of the newest members of Washington’s Fish and Wildlife Department: Savute, a Karelian Bear Dog.
I had the chance to ride along while Savute and his partner, Officer Chris Moszeter, while on patrol in Snoqualmie.
“The folks built these homes in amongst the woods. You have to learn to cohabitate with the wildlife that is there,” Moszeter says.
An officer with Fish and Wildlife’s Enforcement Program, Moszeter is the one who might come to your neighborhood if a wild animal gets too close for comfort. This time of year, he says, bears are hungry. Their noses are several hundred times more sensitive than even a dog’s.
“A small suet feeder or bird feeder, on a good day, a bear can smell that from a mile to a mile and a half away,” says Moszeter.
But, by far, the biggest problem is garbage. Bears learn a neighborhood’s garbage day and wait until the night before to go on the prowl for snacks.
Bears snooping through garbage usually does not lead to anything more than a mess, but sometimes the bears get too familiar with people and don’t keep their distance. That is when they call in the “big dog,” Savute. He is a Karelian Bear Dog, a species that has been bred for centuries in Finland to go after big game.
“The black bear is actually one of the smallest animals that they’ve been bred to hunt. They hunt grizzly bear, black bear, moose, elk, you name it. Anything that’s crawled around Finland over the last few centuries has probably been hunted by a Karelian,” Moszeter says.
To listen to the Kim’s radio report of this ride along click here.