Dog proposal goes to bear task team By Loreth Beswetherick When conservation officer Steve Jacobi gets his little black and white Karelian Bear Dog puppy some time this winter, it won't be the only bear dog in this neck of the woods. Star is also a Karelian. She is 13 months old, lives in Birken and is already learning to chase bears. Her owner, Lee Wilson, hopes to offer his and Star's services to Whistler's Black Bear Task Team for use in training bears to stay away from humans. He said he opted for the breed because he felt "there must be a better way" to deal with Whistler's problem bears than shooting them. He is currently training Star to track bears in the Birken area. Jacobi intends to use his Karelian for tracking and treeing wildlife as part of his conservation work in the area from Squamish to D'Arcy. The breed, which hails from Finland, is fairly new to the country and the dogs are being touted, particularly in the States, as having ideal instincts for use in aversive conditioning on bears. The Finns have been using the dogs for thousands of years to hunt bear and moose. In addition to intelligence, strength, tenacity and single-mindedness, the hounds have an excellent scenting ability which Jacobi will put to use ferreting out illegal firearms and wildlife parts at vehicle road checks throughout the corridor. Jacobi will be getting his dog from Vancouver Island Karelian breeder Dawne Deeley. She is putting her bitch Kati, who has just come into season, on a flight to Finland this week to team up with a Finnish male. Wilson took his proposal to the Black Bear Task Team this week. He said he would like to use his dog, on a volunteer basis at first, to see if she could be of any use deterring Whistler bears.