How to Donate
To donate to the Karelian Bear Dog Program, please send check or money to:
16018 Mill Creek Blvd
Mill Creek WA 98012

Click here
for donation information.
Media at Discovery Park.
Captain Bill Hebner talking to the media with the cougar in the cage behind him.
Discovery Park cougar.
Cougar captured in Discovery Park

Karelian Bear Dogs at Work


Over Labor Day weekend 2009, calls came in regarding 4 or 5 seemingly credible cougar sightings in Discovery Park in the heart of Seattle. WDFW Enforcement sprung into action. Sergeant Chandler and Officer Richards responded with Karelian bear dog (KBD) Mishka, and Officer Jorg deployed his KBD, Colter. Joining these teams were Officers Stevens, Moszeter, Capelli, and Captain Hebner. The teams set two live traps in the park, out of concern for public safety. Captain Hebner recommended that the Seattle Parks Department close the park for the holiday weekend, which it did. The WDFW teams joined forces with the media to update the public during the hunting process. This allowed the public to see Enforcement’s response to community concerns and public safety. Skeptics—including some WDFW staff, voiced doubts about the presence of a cougar in the park.  This added to the media’s interest. But the Enforcement teams were persistent. Throughout the holiday weekend, Officers Richards and Jorg alternated hunting shifts to try to locate and tree the elusive cat. As luck would have it, Officer Jorg found and treed the cat (with the help of a hound hunter) at 2:00 am Sunday morning in the middle of a rainstorm. This was near the Indian Cultural Center in Discovery Park. Officer Jorg quickly immobilized and caged the cat. The rest of the team rushed to the scene in those wee hours of the morning, to help process the cat and manage the media frenzy. WDFW Biologist Rich Beausoleil and graduate student Brian Kertson also assisted in the process. Local and national media had been following the story all weekend, so the capture took center stage during Sunday’s news broadcasts. It included live coverage of how the capture went down. The Department of Fish and Wildlife was portrayed as responsive, caring, and professional, due to the hard work of all involved. The cougar was transported to the Cascades and “hard released” with KBD Cash.


Tacoma bear
This bear generated a lot of media attention because it was so close to a school in Tacoma.
Tacoma bear
Tacoma PD was on scene to help with the crowd of people while the bear was being processed for release.

Miska barking at bears in cage.
Mishka barking at 2 bears in the cage just before their “hard release” into the woods.

Miska with officer.
Officer Bruce Richards and Mishka getting ready to release a bear in Bremerton.
Miska at a bear release.
Mishka coming back after another successful bear release.
Miska reassuring bear cub.
Mishka showing this abandoned bear cub that it’s going to be alright!

KBD Mishka worked with detachment officers from Pierce/Kitsap counties when a bear showed up in West Tacoma near the Narrows Bridge. Mishka was deployed the first day in areas around an elementary school to ensure the safety of the young people at the school. The second day, Mishka was instrumental in locating the bear in a small wooded area next to Highway 12.  He chased the bear to an area where it could be tranquilized, and then he located the bear in the dense brush after it fell asleep from the drug.

Since coming to work with the Enforcement Program, Mishka has proven his value. He helped solve an elk poaching in the Olympic National Park; assisted in several school reopenings after bear- and cougar-related lockdowns; and attracted the attention of millions of viewers on TV, the internet, and newspapers, who now understand the important role WDFW Enforcement plays in keeping western Washington safe as human, bear, and cougar habitat encroach more and more on each other. Children are Mishka’s biggest fans; he has delighted thousands at outdoor events showcasing Enforcement’s KBD program. He has assisted in more than 50 bear-related captures and releases, thus becoming an “ambassador for wildlife.”

Mishka is the first Karelian bear dog in the United States to work with a wildlife enforcement officer. He is now leading and guiding the “youngsters” and watching them try to match and surpass his legacy. Thanks to the generous donations of the Seattle Puget Sound Chapter of the Safari Club International (SCI), WDFW Biologist Rocky Spencer was able to purchase Mishka from the Wind River Bear Institute in 2003. Thanks to Mishka’s success, the Enforcement Program looks forward to many more years of KBD assistance in locating and capturing problem bear and cougar.


Cash is awesome at treeing .
Cash is awesome at treeing bears and cougars.
Cash with cougar.
Cash and Rich with a tranquillized cat that was outfitted with a GPS collar so its movements could be recorded after the release.
Cash on a cougar release.
Cash watching closely as the cougar is being released, to make sure he keeps going!
Cash with bear.
Cash with bear before the “hard release”
Cash in water fountain.
Even KBD’s love to play in the water!
Cash leaping in field.
Is it a KBD or a coyote? It’s Cash the KBD leaping in the grass!

Cash is a 4 ½ year old male (as of August 2010) and is stationed in Wenatchee with handler and WDFW Bear & Cougar Specialist Rich Beausoleil. Cash works throughout Washington State and has done an incredible amount of work with biologists and wildlife officers. He assists in both research and management activities and has helped capture more than 50 cougars and 100 bears statewide. Some of these captured animals were outfitted with GPS radio collars, the data from which is providing WDFW with valuable management information. Cash also has helped to safely capture 14 orphaned cougar cubs and 24 orphaned bear cubs, all of which were successfully rehabilitated and released back into the wild or sent to AZA-accredited zoos where they can be appreciated by millions of people.

Relocation and aversive conditioning of captured animals that are involved in human conflict is one of Cash’s specialties. Because he is fiercely protective of people (not just his handler), and barks and chases bear and cougar at release locations in the mountains, Cash helps make these animals wary of people and dogs. This teaches these animals to stay away from people and avoid conflict. Cash also assists in tracking free-ranging animals that aren’t captured, and haze them back into the woods. In rare cases, Cash has even helped haze moose out of town and bighorn sheep off the highway so they aren’t involved in vehicle collisions.

Cash participates in education efforts by attending fairs, festivals, and visiting schools. Like all Karelian bear dogs in WDFW and the Wind River Bear Institute’s Partners in Life program, Cash is incredibly friendly and loves children. He is known to provide licks and kisses to complete strangers, which makes him a crowd favorite at the events. People who attend these gatherings to learn about living with bear and cougar in Washington always say that Cash and the other Karelian bear dogs are what they remember most from the events. That’s a powerful bear and cougar education tool!

Cash loves his job, continuing to protect wildlife and everyday making his handler better at what he does.  Thanks to Martha Jordan, biologist and lifelong wildlife advocate, for her generous donation that helped bring Cash to WDFW.  Thanks also to Carrie Hunt and the Wind River Bear Institute for developing the KBD program and for their continued partnership.


Colter going to work.
Colter anxious to get to work!
Colter in pursuit of a late season bear.
Colter in pursuit of a late season bear.
Colter, Miska and officer with tranquilized bear.
Mishka, Colter and Officer Jorg before releasing this tranquillized bear.
Colter with released bear.
Colter on a hard release teaching this bear that it’s a good idea to stay out of vehicles!
Colter with bear in trap.
Colter barking at the bear with his handler Officer Nick Jorg there for encouragement.
Colter and friends discourage bear.
Colter & Officer Nick Jorg letting the bear know being around humans is a bad thing!

This has been a big year for Colter and his handler, Officer Nicholas Jorg. Heavier-than-usual bear activity has allowed them to hone their partnership in a variety of situations. They have become quite a teaching team, too, educating hundreds of students and adults about coexisting with bears and other wildlife. Colter has become quite an athlete, growing into his full size and strength; and the fast pace at which he learns shows just how smart he is.

One of Colter and Nicholas’ achievements has been figuring out how to teach appropriate boundaries to stubborn bears and push them in directions they do not want to go. This is an exciting example of teamwork to watch as the two achieve a common goal together. Colter’s learning and work has been extensive, and has proven beneficial to wildlife and people alike. Nicholas and Colter are constantly trying to improve their knowledge and success in resolving bear conflicts. Continual development and assessment of ground breaking techniques provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about bears and educate communities.

To facilitate these improvements, Nicholas is preparing to collect more accurate data on his work with Colter and bears found in conflict, through starting the Sky Valley Bear Smart Project. The Project looks to prevent bear conflicts in the Skykomish Valley northeast of Seattle, WA. “We hope to provide both bears and people with safer, healthier, and more informed communities” says Nicholas. This is being done by addressing many contributing causes of bear conflict. The Project is forming partnerships and reaching out to the residents of the Skykomish Drainage.



Officer Chris Moszeter with WRBI Director Carrie Hunt and Savute at a bear presentation in Washington, May 2009.
Savute with officer.
Officer Chris Moszeter and Savute heading home to Washington from WRBI in Montana, July 2010.
Savute surveys bear in tree.
Officer Chris Moszeter & Savute watching a released bear in the tree.
Savute and Miska in bear trap after a release.
Mishka & Savute in the bear trap after a bear was released.

In 2009, Officer Chris Moszeter was selected to be one of Enforcement’s next Karelian bear dog (KBD) handlers. Along with two other new handlers, Officers Dustin Prater and Dave Jones, Chris was anxiously awaiting news of puppies being born at the Wind River Bear Institute (WRBI) in Montana. Unfortunately, only one puppy was born alive. After discussing WDFW’s options with the director of WRBI, Carrie Hunt, WDFW decided to purchase Colter’s brother, “Savute.” Carrie had brought Savute and Savute’s grandfather, Blaze, with her on a previous trip to help train Enforcement’s other KBDs on bear calls. This gave Chris the opportunity to work with Savute and everyone saw it was a perfect fit. Thanks to the generous donations of the Seattle Puget Sound Chapter of Safari Club International (SCI), Carrie had brought Savute and Savute’s grandfather, Blaze, with her on a previous trip to help train Enforcement’s other KBDs on bear calls. This gave Chris the opportunity to work with Savute and everyone saw it was a perfect fit.

Chris and Savute spent four days at WRBI bonding and learning how to work as a team tracking animals and all kinds of dead stuff. Chris quickly learned that Savute had a very keen nose for finding things. They were fortunate enough to be able to go with WRBI staff on a bear conflict call in the Lolo area of Montana. While searching the area with senior KBD Yoki, Savute located a strong scent and literally drug Officer Moszeter straight into one of the offending black bears. It was Savute’s first live bear encounter, and he worked through it like he had been doing it his whole life.

Chris and Savute returned to Washington to start their career and hit the ground running. Savute helped tree two orphaned bear cubs in Fall City. One of the cubs was later trapped and transported to PAWS Wildlife Care Center. Savute found his voice on those bears and quickly learned to bark at the bears. Savute then assisted with several problem bear in the Snoqualmie area, and located where the bears were camping out after raiding neighborhood garbages. Chris and Savute taught the neighbors tips for cohabitating with the bears. They also responded to a potentially dangerous situation where a bear was feeding in a dumpster at a gas station on Snoqualmie Pass. The bear quickly gathered an audience and fortunately no one was injured. By the time Chris and Savute responded, the bear had left. Savute did not give up that easily, as soon as he donned his harness, he drug Chris through the woods, hot on the bears trail and pushed the bear out of the area. Chris saw the bear twice and both times as soon as the bear saw Savute, he turned tail and ran! Savute and Chris educated the gas station owner on ways to prevent future incidents.

In November 2010 Officer Moszeter received a call from one of our Region 6 officers about a possible bear attack in the Gig Harbor area. Officer Moszeter quickly loaded up KBD Savute and headed towards the site of the incident. On the way he picked up KBD Mishka then contacted KBD handlers Officer Jorg and Biologist Beausoleil and informed them of the possible attack. All hands were on deck when Officer Moszeter arrived and so was every media outlet in the region. Once the KBD Team was assembled onsite, they proceeded to search the surrounding area from where the attack had been reported to locate the offending bear. No scent was discovered at the reported site of the attack so a hound hunter with 6 hounds was called in to find a strike point to work from. Neither the KBD’s nor the hounds could locate a scent. The KBD team covered three square miles of the surrounding area with no sign or scent, but weather conditions quickly deteriorated making tracking almost impossible. For public safety reasons, the decision was made to set two culvert traps in the area. After 2 weeks of monitoring with no activity around the well baited traps, the officers removed them.

Chris and Savute work out of the North Bend station in King County and will always have plenty of bear and cougar work to keep Savute top notch. WDFW and Chris expect that Savute will do great things throughout his career.