Current Conditions

Light Rainshower

Devoted bear dog dies at 15 after life of helping keep wildlife, people safe

Kuma the Karelian Bear Dog is pictured in the photo from the Alberta Fish and Wildlife Department Facebook page. He has died at the age of 15.
Image Credit: Alberta Fish and Wildlife via Facebook
January 09, 2016 - 2:30 PM

CALGARY - The last of the remaining members of Alberta Fish and Wildlife’s first pair of bear management dogs has died at the age of 15.

Kuma the Karelian Bear Dog was one of Canada’s first dogs assigned to track and direct bears.

Alongside his brother, Mica — who died at the age of 10 — Kuma assisted Fish and Wildlife officers in southern Alberta with keeping wildlife from wandering into dangerous scenarios for both the animals and the human population.

District officer John Clarke said at first it was just bears, but over time the dogs also worked with moose, cougars and bighorn sheep.

Kuma was retired in 2012 but he devoted his retirement years to public relations work such as visiting local schools and preschools, where he would be spoiled with treats and cuddles by the excited children.

Kuma’s younger sister and former partner, Koda, now carries the lead in the field.

According to his handlers, there was no greater thrill for Kuma than to receive the command, "Get the bear!"

Kuma excelled at tracking and treeing bears and his skills drew the attention of documentarians and media outlets.

Clarke credits Kuma with saving his life on two occasions. The bear management dog fended off the advances of a ferocious grizzly bear and a rampaging moose during the pair’s time together.

“It actually circled back on us,” recalls Clarke. “I looked to my side and saw this moose coming at me.

“Kuma actually just dove in the air, hit it in the chest, and knocked it off balance. I was very impressed with how he did that. He got a steak that night.”

Clarke says Kuma never failed to do his job and made a lasting impression on so many people and animals in the Crowsnest Pass.

While he could terrify bears, cougars and other large wildlife, Kuma was gentle with people and other animals. Christy Pool of the Crowsnest Pass Bearsmart Association says Kuma became an important and valued part of the pet rescue and orphan wildlife program.

“It was not unusual to come in and find Kuma snuggling with a baby, whether it was a kitten, a puppy or a fawn,” says Pool.

“Kuma set a standard higher than anyone could have expected out of a dog.”

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

  • Popular kamloops News
  • Comments
  • Murder victim found in Kelowna orchard identified
    KELOWNA - The identity of the woman whose body was found in a Kelowna orchard last week has been made public on social media. Kelowna resident Russia Katalina Nicholson was just 23-years-old
  • Nasty weather forecast for Thompson, Shuswap tomorrow
    THOMPSON-SHUSWAP - The Thompson and Shuswap could be in for some blustery weather tomorrow by midday. Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement warning of strong wind gusts a
  • Westsyde residents face uphill battle to bring Timmies to neighbourhood
    KAMLOOPS - It took just six days for 1,242 Westsyde residents to sign a petition calling for Tim Hortons to consider allowing a franchisee to open up shop at the corner of Westsyde Road and Overla
  • Kamloops girl shuts down suspect who tried to lure her
    KAMLOOPS - Police in Kamloops are looking for a man who allegedly tried to lure an 11-year-old girl in front of a Westsyde elementary school. Kamloops RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jodi Shelkie say
  • UPDATE: Missing Kamloops teen located
    UPDATE: 5:06 a.m. Monday, Oct. 16, 2017 KAMLOOPS - RCMP say a missing 18-year-old girl has been located. All personal information about the missing person has been removed from this
View Site in: Desktop | Mobile