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January 13th, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 2
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Beloved Karelian Bear Dog “Kuma” dies
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Photo courtesy of Derek Reich
Kuma the Karelian Bear Dog, one of Canada's first dogs assigned to track and direct bears, died last week at the age of 15. He is to be honoured Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. with a procession through Blairmore.
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
It’s said all dogs go to heaven but Kuma the Karelian Bear Dog forcefully earned a trip through the pearly gates through service, loyalty and for once saving his handler and friend from a grizzly bear.

“There was an incident when a bear was going to kill us,” said District Fish and Wildlife officer John Clarke. “And Kuma stopping that from happening. It was a part of a mauling scenario years ago. We were going in there, we had to put the bear down but the bear had decided he was going to get us too. And Kuma deflected him and held him in place.”

Kuma, one of Canada's first dogs assigned to track and direct bears, died last week at the age of 15. He is to be honoured Jan. 20 at 2 p.m. with a procession through Blairmore.

Kuma was one of the first wildlife management dogs to enter Canada 15 years ago with his brother Mica. He was partnered in Alberta with Clarke.
continued below ...
The main focus of Kuma's career was bear management. He excelled at tracking, treeing, and pushing bears out of unwanted areas. Kuma also became well known for his work teaching the local herds of bighorn sheep to stay off the highway, chasing rogue moose out of town, and seeking out the odd visiting cougar.

While he was tough on bears, Kuma had a softer side. Christy Pool of the Crowsnest Pass Bear-Smart Association said Kuma became something of a father figure to the orphaned wildlife hosted at Clarke’s home.

“Kuma’s nurturing side drew these orphans to him; it was not uncommon to see this big strong bear dog sleeping next to a baby or watching over them as they played in the yard,” said Pool.

He also became an important public relations figure for the BearSmart association. Kuma was featured in numerous documentaries and educational films throughout the years, showing the world his ability to make a difference to the officers he served with and the wildlife that surrounded him.
continued below ...
“Kuma attended many school talks and presentations every year,” said Pool. “He met over 100,000 people throughout his career and was friendly and gentle to them all. He especially enjoyed his annual visit to the local Kids Kollege, where he knew treats,cuddles, and kids excitedly awaited his arrival.”

Kuma’s younger sister Koda is carrying on her brother’s legacy and now works with Clarke to track and direct bears.

Funeral procession for Kuma, for a lifetime of service to the Crowsnest Pass, will be held on Jan. 20 at 2:00 p.m.

The walk will beginning at Provincial Building in Blairmore to Gazebo Park. A social after at the Blairmore Legion.
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January 13th ~ Vol. 85 No. 2
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