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SUMNER, Wash. A bear roaming the streets of downtown Sumner is now living in the wilderness - and that might not have happened without a dog named Coulter.

Coulter is one of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife s specially trained Karelian Bear Dogs. Coulter was with Officer Bruce Richards when they got a call for help from Sumner police, who were chasing a bear through the downtown area.

When Richards and Coulter got there, the bear was hiding in a vacant lot covered with an impenetrable thicket of blackberries.

Coulter didn t hesitate. He charged into the blackberry fortress and was soon face to face with the bear. Richards said the dog successfully backed up the bear to a point where officers could see it and shoot it with a tranquilizer dart.

In the past officers might just shoot and kill bears that wander into densely populated areas of towns, rather than risk another chase.

But in this instance, Coulter s work wasn t done.

Richards transported the bear to the deep woods for relocation. After he opened the cage and the bear ran out, Coulter ran after it and chased into the woods, just to remind the bear how unpleasant life in the city can be.

It s called a hard release and wildlife officers say that method and the use of bear dogs are helping them save more bears they used to have to kill.

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