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Blog: Karelian Bear Dogs Used to Scare Away Lions

A new way to keep lions away from people.

The Lion's Eye

Despite of all my efforts, or perhaps because of them, I suspect there are still folks out there, even in the Santa Monica Mountains that are afraid of mountain lions. Actually if one jumped on me, I might have to change my pants. So what to do? There are a group of folks in Washington State who have an answer. Have you ever had bad breath or BO or some horrible thing where no one would talk to you? I hope not, but I know you can imagine such a thing. That’s why our nation spends billions on toiletries and the like. No, I am not suggesting that we get sweaty when we hike, I know that does not work. Well, actually, I always get sweaty and I’ve never seen one. Just be patient.

When you were a child, were you ever bullied by the big kids? Generally when someone is frightened by something, they stay afraid of it. Perhaps you read my article on fear mongering as a technique for getting people to do things because they are afraid. It actually works well enough that there are people who invest millions scaring people…..

The folks in Washington State have engaged the services of what are called Karelian Bear Dogs. Bear dogs are not afraid of bears or lions. In fact in the NRA world (National Rifle Association, not National Recreation Area), dogs are used to hunt bears. The idea is, you chase the bear or lion for miles till it can’t move any more. Then you force it to climb a tree and then you shoot it while it’s trying to catch its breath 20 feet away, a lot like shooting fish in a barrel.

Incidentally the president of the California Department of Fish and Game paid over $7,000 to do just that. What a man. Well, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife in the North Puget Sound area doesn’t do that. They capture lions in the same way our NPS does by darting them, but their release into the wild is different.

When the lion is about to be released, Karelian dogs are brought behind the cage and begin barking at the animal. When the cage door is released, the lion is terrified and runs out the front as fast as it can. Before its feet hit the ground, the DFW folks start yelling and making as much noise as they can, set off lots of firecrackers and once the lion has made some ground, they shoot a very loud rifle into the air a few times. The idea is to terrify the lion so it won’t come back. At least 80 percent of the lions are never seen again. I think that’s pretty clever. Maybe we could get funding to do that.

Anyone have some Karelian dogs they’d like to donate to the SMMNRA folks? Each dog is “married’ to a park ranger for life.

While this may smell of bullying the lions to some, those who are afraid of lions may disagree. Try walking up to a cage with a live mountain lion in it, close enough to hear it breath, or better yet snarl at you. Then imagine someone is about to open the cage door. You’d want it to take one look at you and go the other way. Imagine every mountain lion like that, you could stop worrying.

Incidentally if you are not afraid of lions, review your reasons why. You should be, they are dangerous. I saw people in Glacier National Park in Montana once trying to feed local black Bears along the highway. There was a mother and cub and a whole big bunch of people pulled over taking pictures. I wanted to scream at them to stop. When my wife saw papa bear coming down the highway toward the cars, we left.

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Robert Coutts October 26, 2012 at 11:44 PM
Seda Thank you so much for your invitation to recite my poetry at you gallery. I'll be there Saturday night at 7:00. Any Patch reader is welcome to attend. It's the Malibu Lumber Yard Gallery at Cross Creek. Here is the poem that Seda liked.
Robert Coutts October 26, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Fire The fires are so greedy here taking everything within their grasp. What there is, is what they want nothing has a choice. Such a voracious appetite leaves the world a different place. Not much is left in fire’s path, everything’s affected. With wind as fire’s partner It all happens far too fast. But some take advantage of fire’s nature. And wait till it arrives Knowing of its talents. Earth provides them insulation, Until the fire takes it away. the seeds finally end their waiting, and are altered in preparation for departure, fire freeing them from the earth. Spring rains reach them in the blackened soil, fresh fertilizer in the ashes and so their life begins.. Knowing that the fire won’t return They make the canyons green again. And yellow and red and blue and lavender. The oak’s blackened bark releases green, and spring once more reminds us why the mountains are our home. Fire is their partner, not their enemy. Without it, nothing happens. You and I are strangers here Trying to fit in. Our awareness limited The first few generations Keep the mountain’ secrets hidden. Intruders, actually, in the mountains Sometimes bringing fire, Assigned a reluctant, minor role. With lightning standing closer to the footlights. Fire takes the commanding lead Sweeping away the competition. Looking beyond flame’s reach You see beyond the terror
Robert Coutts October 26, 2012 at 11:45 PM
Fire has its role here A minor one but central Fire is the re-adjuster a reminder of the Author’s first intent.
Robert Coutts November 03, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Rachel Catherine My wife and I will soon be opening an art gallery in Agoura. The first items will be graphic prints, the second showing will be photographs including your Rothko-esk items.

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