Three Karelian bear dogs are being employed by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department this year to help deal with bear problems, primarily in eastern King County.
The medium-size, Finnish hunting dogs will help deal with black bears that raise havoc in suburban garbage cans and greenbelts.
Last year, King County bears accounted for 71 percent of the bear problems state wildlife officers responded to on the west side of the Cascades from South King County to the Canada border.
In 2008, they fielded 881 calls about bear sightings in King County alone, and responded to 260 cases. That’s up from 2007, when officers received 679 sightings and responded to 202 bear calls.
The dogs help wildlife officers in two ways:
•With their marvelous sense of smell and extensive training, they can track down a bear hiding in the woods.
•When they find that bear, the dogs can help wildlife officials frighten it so thoroughly that it will think twice about visiting civilization again.
Karelians have been used for centuries in Finland to hunt bear and elk. They will fearlessly face off a bear while staying out of harm’s way, officials said.
Elk hunt delayed at Turnbull
An elk hunt planned for Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge has been scrapped, at least for this fall.
Federal approval for the hunt has been delayed, state Fish and Wildlife Department officials announced Friday. Without a guarantee from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state Fish and Wildlife Commission cannot approve the plan for 63 elk permits at its rule-setting meeting next weekend in Olympia.
Blazing Saddles Chili Ride set
The annual Blazing Saddles Chili Ride, an 8-mile mountain bike ride, is set to start at 11 a.m. April 5 from Seven Mile landing strip in Riverside State Park.
Cost: $15, includes a chili feed. Proceeds go to Riverside State Park. RSVP to avoid a chili shortage.
Info: www.roundandround.com .
NRA appeals parks gun ruling
The National Rifle Association has appealed a recent federal court ruling that blocked a Bush administration policy allowing people to carry concealed, loaded guns in national parks.
Previously, guns in parks had been required to be unloaded and stored in cases or trunks.
Meanwhile, Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., failed in his attempt this week to add an amendment to the omnibus public lands bill that would have legalized concealed, loaded handguns within national parks.
Staff and wire reports