Races of Gametiime: Karelian Bear Dog 5K benefits bear-tracking & bear-saving dogs in Western Washington


Ever heard of a Karelian Bear Dog? Neither had we until we had a chance to connect with Angie Ragan, Race Director for the Karelian Bear Dog (“KBD”) 5K. In its second year, the KBD 5K benefits the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife’s (“WDFW”) Karelian Bear Dog Program, a program established by the WDFW to resolve the many bear-human conflicts that occur in our state and reduce the number of bears that have to be lethally removed.

Read more about this unique race, the Karelian Bear Dog 5K, that benefits the Karelian Bear Dog Program and its critical role in wildlife enforcement via the WDFW.


Tell us about the Karelian Bear Dog 5K. What, when and where is it? The Karelian Bear Dog 5K has two dates and locations this year. March 9th at Horizon’s Elementary School in Lacey, WA using the Chehalis Western Trail, and March 23rd in Mill Creek, WA using the Seattle-Everett Interurban Trail.

What to can participants expect to see and do? Participants can either run and/or walk the event with or without their dog. The event is kid friendly. There will be several KBDs and their handlers will be there to answer questions and introduce their furry little sidekicks.

What do you consider to be the best part about the Karelian Bear Dog 5K? This is a fun, family oriented event.  The KBD program is funded solely through private outside sources. Your donation goes specifically toward the care, upkeep, and training of the Karelian Bear Dogs. KBDs serve a critical role in helping the WDFW track and locate bear, assist in hard releases, and detect items (e.g. fish, birds, shell casings, etc.) of evidentiary value.

How many participants do you expect for the race? We expect about 100 participants at each event, 200 in total. This is a small, family friendly event for a good cause.

How long has the Karelian Bear Dog 5K been around? The Karelian Bear Dog 5K event is in its second year. The KBD Program was started by Rocky Spencer, a WDFW Biologist.  Rocky Spencer initiated the use of Karelian Bear Dogs (KBD) in this agency with the use of Mishka in 2003. Rocky was tragically killed while net-gunning bighorn sheep from a helicopter in September 2007. His untimely death left the agency with a decision that had to be made on who would oversee this program and if we wanted to keep using the KBDs.

Does the Karelian Bear Dog 5K benefit any charitable organizations? If so, which ones? Yes, in addition to the KBD program itself, we are also benefitting Animal Services of Thurston County and PAWS of Lynwood with a pet food drive.

Do you organize other events as well? If so, which ones? Not at this time.

Anything else you’d like to share with the Gametiime community? Many successes have been documented in re-training bears to avoid humans through the use of Karelian Bear Dogs. We also hope to use them to conduct similar work with mountain lions and work as a wildlife enforcement detection dog. For more info regarding the Karelian Bear Dog Program please visit: http://wdfw.wa.gov/enforcement/kbd/index.html.

How can people find out more about the Karelian Bear Dog 5K? Take a look at our event website!


Have an awesome event you would like us to highlight in a Gametiime Race Feature? Leave a comment or send an email to info@gametiime.com and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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