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Picchio's bear dogs and their handlers
In 2004, we started a program using dogs (bear dogs) for our bear management work. We obtained two Karelian Bear Dog puppies from the Wind River Bear Institute (WRBI), an organization of bear conflict specialists which uses dogs in its management in the United States. Our dogs, Bullet (male) and Luna (female), siblings from the same litter, are in training and we are looking forward to working with full-fledged bear dogs in near future!

Our Bear Dogs!

  • Bullet (male) Born January 31st, 2004:
  • Bullet got his name because he was born with a bullet's speed, and also because his father's name is "Wind River Blazing Gun." Bullet is very people-oriented and has a sweet personality. He is bold and an excellent barker.

  • Luna (female) Born January 31st, 2004:
  • Her handler chose this name from the Goddess of the Moon, because she will be working on the Asiatic Black Bear, also known as the "Moon Bear." Luna loves people and she is the type of dog who seeks a strong bond with a single owner. She is very cuddly considering her breed. She has a keen nose making tracking her specialty.

    What the Bear Dogs Do?

    A training activity for our dogs to familiarize themselves with real bears
  • Push bears into mountainous areas and block them from coming into town by barking at them (they bark and stop barking on command).
  • Chase bears without being leashed when needed.
  • Protect bear management staff when needed.
  • Warn staff when bears are around (both radio-collared and unmarked).
  • Track bears.
  • Find bears and bear signs.
  • Find bear attractants at bear conflict sites.
  • Educate the public. Go with staff on presentations and classes to help teach the public and school kids about bears.

  • When chasing bears into mountainous areas, there are times when we are forced to follow them into the bush. Up until now this has been impossible due to the dangers, especially at night. However with dogs, we are able to go on as the dogs warn us if the bears get too close and are capable of dealing with them should they turn on us. Even if we lose track of the bears, the dogs can quickly locate them again. At conflict sites, the dogs can find bear attractants right away. When we talk to the public about bears, the dogs always make it easier for us.

    About Bear Dogs, the History

    The idea of using dogs for the conservation of bears started in the 1990's in the United States. A bear biologist and bear conflict specialist Carrie Hunt looked for and found the perfect breed for her new non-lethal bear management method, a breed that was also safe to be around humans. She started the Wind River Bear Institute in 1995 and since then, she has been breeding and training dogs for her work. NPO picchio became interested in this new bear management method and have been working on introducing this technique to Japan.

    About the Karelian Bear Dog, the Breed

    The breed we use for our bear dogs, known as the "Karelian Bear Dog," originated in an area between Finland and Russia called Karelia. Karelian dogs have been bred for over 100 years to hunt bears and other large animals, they also know how to safely work brown bears on the ground. This is one of the reasons why Ms. Hunt chose this breed for bear dogs. However, not all Karelians can be bear dogs. Only those who have an aptitude for this work can be selected and trained for it. Karelians are very intelligent and take to people well , but they are very independent dogs and try to leave their owners if they get a chance. They are also extremely sensitive and if mistreated, will never forget it. For this reason, it takes tremendous time and effort to train them. They are highly energetic dogs that require plenty of exercise everyday, are aggressive towards other dogs, and bark a lot. Karelians do not make good family pets.
      -About the breed, see also WRBI website:

    -Considering owning one? See also WRBI website: