Sudbury

Bear herding dogs could help with growing nuisance bear problem in northern Ontario

A Timmins ecologist wants to bring specialized bear herding dogs into northern Ontario to help deal with the region's bear problem.

Specialized bear herding dogs might be able to help with the region's bear problem.

Nicole Charbonneau and her dog Lushia. Lushia isn't a Karelian dog but Charbonneau says she's chased away bears while walking in the bush with her. (Nicole Charbonneau)

A Timmins ecologist wants to bring specialized bear herding dogs into northern Ontario to help deal with the region's bear problem.

Nicole Charbonneau says she's hoping to put together a team of Karelian bear dogs. The dogs don't hunt the bears, but herd them away from certain areas, scaring the bears so they know to stay away, said Charbonneau.

"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."

The bear dogs can also be used to increase the success rates for trapping and relocating bears, said Charbonneau. When the bears are released, the dogs will bark and chase them, making the bears afraid to come back.

"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." said Charbonneau.

She said the dogs could be used for more than keeping bears out of neighbourhoods. They could also keep bears away from northern mine sites.

Bears are often attracted to mining sites because of the lubricants and oils used in the machinery.

The Alberta government has been using Karelian bear dogs to scare away grizzly and black bears since 2001.

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