Washington’s alpha Karelian bear dog no longer is being tasked with harassing cougars and bears.
After 12 years of serving Washington State Fish and Wildlife, Mishka and his handler, Bruce Richards, have retired.
Karelian bear dogs are rare in the U.S., numbering only 400. They’re smart, independent, and instinctively bold with bears and cougars. Game officials use them to track down carcasses of cougar prey, find bones discarded by poachers, and to harass bears released back into the wild – a necessity to condition them into again fearing civilization.
Karelian bear dogs were bred in Finland for hunting. They hunt like wolves, tracking and then circling game. And like a beagle that locks in on a scent and dashes off baying, Mishka will jump out of a moving car if there’s something to chase and Richards leaves the window down.
Read the Tri-City Herald feature about Mishka and see a photo of him straining to pounce on a bear.