Mishka, the state’s first Karelian Bear Dog, dies at 15

Washington Fish and Wildlife is mourning the death of Mishka, the state's first Karelian Bear Dog.

Mishka was the first KBD in the United States to become a wildlife and fisheries agent.

He died in his sleep recently at 15 3/4 years old, Washington Fish and Wildlife reported on its Facebook page. He had been with the department since he was a puppy.

Millions of viewers watched him work on the show "Rugged Justice."

KBDs like Mishka were brought to Washington to assist with wildlife control.

They help resolve conflicts between humans, bears and cougars in a non-lethal way.

They also help to solve investigations, like the time Mishka helped investigators nab a suspect who poached an elk in Olympic National Park.

"After 11 months and over 600 man-hours of previous searching, Mishka took only 15 minutes before digging through two feet of winter debris to recover DNA evidence, which helped secured a federal conviction," wildlife officials said.

Mishka also helped to capture various wildlife for the department's radio collar program.

"He was a fantastic ambassador who interacted with tens of thousands of residents and children with a gentle confidence, and served as the example for every other KBD that came after him," the agency said.

You can learn more about the state's Karelian Bear Dog program here.