September 18th, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 38
Bear Dog program
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Archive photo
Karelian Bear Dog at Crowsnest Pass Trade Show.
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
The hopes for Karelian Bear Dog program’s return to the area took another hit as council received a letter from Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, Doug Schweitzer, stating it is not something they are looking at implementing.

In the letter, the program is said to have little success and that the cost outweighs the results.

“When the Karelian Bear Dog Program began in the spring of 2001, the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch had a small number of Karelian bear dogs that were used for aversive conditioning and shepherding of bears away from urban area. Those techniques had limited success, yet required considerable effort and resources during times when bears frequented urban areas.”

It also states in the letter that the program had little success in other areas as well.

“The assessment took into account the review of other bear aversion programs that had been attempted in our province, including a bear aversion program using dogs that previously operated in the Bow Valley and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.”

The end of the letter states that at this time, there is no plan to re-introduce the program.

“Alberta Environment and Parks Is responsible for wildlife management in the province, including the educational component of the Alberta BearSmart Program. The Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch is responsible for the protection of life and property in relation to problem wildlife and delivers prevention, mitigation and compensation programs aimed at meeting those objectives.
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For the reasons I have mentioned, bear aversion does not form part of that response. Alberta fish and wildlife officers will continue to support, when possible, the BearSmart volunteers who champion the program in their communities.”

In response to the letter, council discussed ways of moving forward.

Councillor Sygutek advised council to not let the issue end and to continue pressing forward in different ways.

“In regards to this letter, I don't think we should let this issue die. I think we should bring it up again and we'll say if it's a cost issue we'll bear the brunt of the cost as a municipality as long as the officers can carry the dogs. We need to keep moving on this. We can't just accept this. We can send in the letters, newspaper articles and we can do all the things we need to in order to keep this at the forefront.”
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Councillor Glavin also commented to the point made in the letter that it didn’t work in the Bow Valley and Peter Lougheed Provincial park by saying that while it may not work everywhere it did work in the Pass.

After the discussion, Councillor Sygutek made a motion that council sends a letter to the Solicitor General along with all the petitions from community members and that if funding is a problem, tell them that we are willing to fund the program internally.

The motion was carried and council will now move forward with this plan and wait for another response.

Residents are also asked to continue signing letters the letters at the Pass Herald as these letters will be part of the push to re-instate the program in the Crowsnest Pass.
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September 18th, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 38
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