Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bear Beware

You know the old saying: A fed bear is a dead bear.

Whenever bears become acclimated to humans, bears lose. There are a number of educational efforts that teach people how to be "bear aware." But sometimes bears still start hanging around towns, farms or residences.

Enter the Karelian bear dog. This breed was developed on the Finnish-Russian border to hunt wolves, bears and moose. Today, they're also being used to scare grizzlies away from people, thus teaching the bears to avoid humans.
Jewel (pictured above) is the ambassador for Karelian bear dogs. Jewel lives at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, where her demonstrations educate the public on the importance of keeping grizzlies wild and away from people.

Jewel worked for four years with the Wind River Bear Institute, an organization using Karelian bear dogs to change the way wildlife managers deal with bears. Instead of automatically relocating or killing problem bears, managers use dogs like Jewel to drive them away.

You can meet Jewel at 10 AM Saturday, August 15 at The Nature Conservancy's Flat Ranch Preserve. The program is free to the public. Stop by and learn about bears, dogs and how we can all work, play and live in the same environments.

The program is part of Flat Ranch Preserve's summer program series. Check out other activities at the preserve this August. --Matt Miller

Photos courtesy the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center, West Yellowstone.

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