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Learn about bears, and the dogs that help teach them manners
Meet the Karelian Bear Dogs and the Washington Fish and Wildlife officers that work with them to help keep wandering bears out of your backyard and away from your garbage cans.
Meet the bear dogs on Saturday.
No, they're not dogs crossed with bears. They're dogs that can put the fear of, well, dog, in a bear.
Bruce Richards and Nick Jorg, officers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (who have been featured on TV's "Animal Planet"), will lead a fun-for-all-ages presentation at Everett's NW Stream Center about bears and how we live with them — or deal with them, when they wander into suburban backyards, find loose-lidded trash cans, or otherwise make themselves of special interest to human beings. (An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 black bears live in Washington state.)
The real stars of the show, however, are likely to be Mishka(shown here with Richards), Colter and Savute, three Karelian Bear Dogs that work with the wildlife agents. Used for centuries in Finland to hunt bear and elk, Karelians have an instinctive tendency to face down a big animal such as a bear without fear, but also stay out of harm's way.
Saturday's session will include "Do's and Don'ts in Bear Country" and other lessons about bear habits and habitat. Kids can help out with a simulated bear capture (with the dogs, plus a wildlife officer in a bear suit).
While the bear dogs can be fierce, there's a flip side. Event promoters warn: You could get your face licked.
Bear Show at NW Stream Center, 1 p.m. Saturday, 600 128th St. S.E., McCollum Park, Everett; $5-$7. Call for reservations: 425-316-8592. More info: www.streamkeeper.org. Also this weekend: "Living with Wildlife: Black Bears," a free presentation (without the bear dogs) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lewis Creek Park, 5808 Lakemont Blvd. S.E., Bellevue; 425-452-6885.
Brian J. Cantwell, Seattle Times travel staff