Dogs might be a solution to Ontario’s bear problem, ecologist says

Karelian dog chasing bear

Timmins ecologist Nicole Charbonneau has suggested a unique solution to Northern Ontario’s bear problem: dogs. Specifically, a team of Karelian bear dogs.

Charbonneau believes the canines are a great, non-lethal option to deal with bears that wander into rural communities.

“They just try to guide the bear away from humans. They don’t attack them or anything like that. They just kind of have this type of behaviour and instinctively know how to talk to the bear, let’s say, and get the bear to understand that they want them to get away,” she explained to the CBC.

Despite the fact that research has proven that dogs are often present during bear attacks (and therefore could have drawn the bear to its owner), teams of Karelians have been used by the Albertan government since 2001 and are currently being used by biologists to protect small Yukon communities. Beyond scaring bears away, this specific breed of dog is also said to improve the success rates of relocating the animals, so they don’t wander back and get labeled a nuisance.

Charbonneau said that the dogs can prevent other wildlife from wandering too close to populated areas: “These dogs can also be used to ward off, for example, large moose that are having problems coming into areas and just causing a disturbance. They’ve been used for wolves and cougars.”

Beyond protecting communities, the dogs can also be used to keep bears away from mining sites and other dangerous areas.