Black Bears
and Their Tracks

   
StudyWeb
StudyWeb®

Ursus americanus

 

5 in. L X 5 in. W

7 in L X 5 in. W

Right Front Foot

Right Hind Foot

Black Bear Tracks

Front track on the left. Hind track on the right. Claw marks do not always show.

 

Natural History of Black Bears

bears photo from the Bear Den 1997. Black bears are the smallest American bears, and the most common. They are the only bears found in the wild in California. Although the grizzly bear is the state mammal, it has been extinct in California since 1922.

Black bears are usually nocturnal, but can be active during the day. Bears are strong, agile, and quick. They swim and climb trees well. A bear can run 30 miles per hour in short bursts.

 

Bears eat a wide variety of foods. A partial list includes: grass, leaves, nuts, berries, buds, twigs, roots, corn, fruits, insects, plant sprouts, invertebrates, fish, carrion, fruit, succulent plants, eggs, birds, small mammals, and human garbage. Bears will dig up underground wasp nests to eat the insects, nest and all. They are extremely hungry when they emerge from their winter dormancy period in the spring and will often strip the bark off trees to eat the sugary cambium layer. The bears in the region do not hibernate all winter, but they do sleep away the harshest part of winter. Bears den in logs, beneath fallen trees, and in caves. Several days before entering the den, a bear consumes roughage, including leaves and bits of its own hair. These form a plug up to a foot long in the digestive system that is voided after the bear emerges from the den.

 

One or two young are born during the winter, usually in January or February. They weigh ˝ pound at birth (about as much as a can of soda or a stick of butter) and grow quickly by nursing on the mother's milk, which can contain as much as 20% fat.

Bear droppings are over an inch thick, and tubular. The scat varies with diet, which can be 90% vegetable matter.

Bears are shy animals and will usually run from humans. They sometimes raid human garbage, compost piles, or pet food dishes that are left outside.

The inner toe in the track is the smallest toe. Bears walk plantigrade or flat-footed. Bears use the same trails over and over for generations. They tend to place their feet in exactly the same place every time they use the trail. You can find these trails where each footfall is in a depression worn into the ground by the passage of so many bears over the years.

The stride is about 36 to 42 in. The most common walking trail pattern is at right.

For such a heavy animal, black bears leave very light impressions in some soil types. I find that dry, dusty soil shows details of the pads of the feet well. Mud shows the toes and claws well, although claw marks are not always found in black bear tracks! Nice damp sand is the best medium for bear tracks, but it's hard to find in some places!

Black bear trail pattern drawing by Kim A. Cabrera

Black bear trail pattern

Other Black Bear Pages on this site:
Go to the Black Bear Scat Page
or Black Bear Scat Page II
Go to the Black Bear Feeding Signs Page
or Black Bear Tracks and Signs Page II
Black Bear Video by Jim Allen
Black Bear Dens and Beds
Black Bear Marking Trees
Black Bear Trails and Stomp Marking
More Bear Tracking Videos
Black Bear Cub Tracks

View some of my Black Bear Tracking Videos to learn more about the tracks and signs you will see in the field if you track black bears.

To see black bears in action, marking on trees in their territory and doing other bear things, visit my YouTube channel:

www.youtube.com/beartracker777

The videos on my YouTube channel come from trail cameras I have set up in the woods to show black bears in their natural habitat, doing what they do when no one is watching. Enjoy!
 
 

Not hosted on this site, but great black bear page
from the North American Bear Center:
Lily the Black Bear
Jewel the Black Bear
Opens in a new window. Follow along as Lily and Jewel raise cubs!
These web cams provide a look inside a wild bear's den, LIVE!
Watch cubs being raised and cared for in real time and learn more
about bears than ever possible before.
Rare glimpses into the lives of wild black bears.


 

Black Bear Tracks and Sign Photos

The two photos above show the claw marks left by a black bear on an apple tree. In late summer, when the apples are ripening, the bears use them as a food source. There are many old abandoned orchards in my area and they provide a regular food source during the right season, just before winter and the scarcity of food that comes with it. To determine which animal left the claw marks, count the number of claw marks. Five is usually bear, but they don't always leave all five! So be careful when trying to make an identification. Use all the clues available. Ask yourself why the animal would climb the tree? For food, shelter, to hide from a predator? The sharpness of the claws will also help. Cats have narrow, sharp claws. Bears' claws are not as sharp. Cats (i.e. bobcats and cougars) also have a fifth toe, with a claw, located on the wrist. This can leave a mark when they climb. Blunt claw marks are usually left by bears, and frequently left on fruit trees.
 
 

Black bear hind track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera.

Black bear hind track. The longer heel will sometimes show in the hind prints. Not always though, so be careful in your identification. Look closely at the gait as well as the placement of the feet. This will help you tell front from hind tracks. Notice the lack of claw marks on these tracks. Black bear tracks do not always show their claws. This particular track shows some fur marks at the lower left of the photo.

 
Black bear hind track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera.

Hind track of a black bear. The longer heel will sometimes show in the hind prints. Not always though, so be careful in your identification. Look closely at the gait as well as the placement of the feet. This will help you tell front from hind tracks. Notice the lack of claw marks on these tracks. Black bear tracks do not always show their claws.

 

Black bear hind track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera. 

A hind bear track on a dusty dirt road.

 

Right hind track of a black bear. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The right hind track of a black bear in dust. I tracked this bear down a dirt road, through the tall grass to a pond, where he deposited a large scat. Then the bear went cross-country through the brush and ended up at a landfill, where he wandered around for a bit before heading off into the forest.
 

Left front track of a black bear. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A beautiful left front track from a black bear. This fine dust left marks from all five toes, as well as the fur from the bear's foot!

 

Left hind track of a black bear. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A left hind black bear track. This one shows some ripples in the heel pad. This could indicate an older bear. These hind tracks were eight inches long, making it definitely an adult bear.
 

Black bear cub track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The tiny track of a black bear cub found in the mud of a dried-up pond. This little footprint is less than three inches wide! A very nice find. Cubs are lighter in weight, so don't tend to leave really distinctive tracks in most soil types.

 

Bear track left hind foot. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The left hind track of a black bear in dust. In dust, the claw marks are often unclear, or not really visible.

 

Apple tree showing damage caused by a black bear. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This apple orchard had numerous signs of bear activity. Most of the trees had scratch marks in the bark from bear claws. There were plenty of scats all around. The grass around the trees had been flattened down by bears walking on it. Many of the trees also had broken or bent branches. Bears, in their feeding activity, will bend the fruit-laden branches toward themselves to get at the fruit. They often break branches this way. Their large size will also break some branches. But that's OK with the bear. It just goes down to the ground and picks up the fruit and eats it!
 

Claw marks of a black bear in the bark of an apple tree it climbed. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This apple tree had bear claw marks of various ages. Apple trees can live for over 100 years and bears use them for food each year. In my area, there are many abandoned orchards which support a lot of wildlife, including bears, foxes, raccoons, deer, and coyotes, to name a few.  Bears climb the apple trees to get at the fruit. There were also bear hairs snagged in the bark of the trees in this orchard, another clue as to the culprit who ate the apples!
 

Black bear hind track cast. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera.

A nice cast from a footprint left in deep mud. The details, such as the fur on the side of the foot, are even visible here.
   

Black bear scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera.

Bear scat made up of mostly seeds and berries. There are also a few wasp exoskeletons in the one on the right. Bears love to dig up the wasp nests and eat them. These scats are loose and formless due to the moisture content of the diet.
 

Black bear scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera.

Another fairly formless scat due to the bear's moist duet of berries.

 

Black bear scat composed of grass. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008Black bear scat composed of grass. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008

Two bear scats composed of grass and vegetation. These were found in early spring, before many plants were ripened and no fruits were available as a food source. Many animals have diets that change seasonally as the availability of certain foods changes.
 

Black bear scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera.

This bear scat is more firm and holds its shape. The diet here was drier than the berry diet above.

 
Black bear scat composed of blackberries. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Bear scat composed of blackberry seeds. Often, you will find purple juice running downhill from these scats. Look to the top of the photo to see this. Bears eat a lot of berries!

 
Black bear scat composed of blackberries. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
Close-up of portion of black bear scat above showing round cross-section and diameter.
 
 
Black bear hind track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera.

A nice hind track in fine dust. This bear did not leave any claw imprints.

   

Black bear tracks. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

A pair of bear tracks in river sand. These tracks have been worn by the wind until they are mere depressions. However, you can still make out the distinctive shape of the footprints. The hind foot, on the right, shows nice definition of the toes. Ruler is 12 inches long.
   
   

Bears Getting Into Trouble

Black bear raided dumpster. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

The lid of a dumpster raided by a bear. The bear got up on top and managed to bend the plastic lid to get at the tasty garbage inside. Notice the black garbage bag on the ground in the background. The smudges on top of the lid were caused by the bear. Although the heavy metal bar was across both lids, this didn't stop the bear. They are quite strong.
   
Black bear feeding on a jelly jar. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.
This plastic jelly jar was removed from the dumpster above by the bear. It was completely licked clean after it was gnawed open. I heard something making a crunching sound in the brush, but it was dark outside and I couldn't see the culprit. I grabbed a strong flashlight and air horn and returned. The bear heard me coming and meandered out of the brush. One blast of the air horn was enough to convince it to leave. I found this jar and some other garbage the next day, during daylight hours. The air horn was very effective in scaring it off. I found its tracks once more near the dumpsters that summer, but not since. I also had the dumpsters replaced with more bear-resistant ones.

 

So, how do you keep bears out of dumpsters and garbage cans? First, dumpsters are difficult to secure as bears are very strong animals. Even a raccoon can climb atop a dumpster and insert a paw between the lids in that little crack. They can pull trash out and make a mess. Bears that get used to getting into garbage often turn into problem bears. In many places, this means the bear will end up getting shot. Once a bear learns this behavior, it never forgets. So, even if that bear is trapped and relocated someplace else, it will likely become a problem in the new location too. Thus, wildlife managers will often resort to killing problem bears. This is the policy in many national parks. The best way to keep the bears safe is for the humans who visit their homes to keep their food and garbage locked up where bears can't get into it. If you go camping or hiking, use bear-proof canisters to secure your food. Pack out all garbage and dispose of it in bear-proof containers only. When you cook, cook away from your campsite. Don't sleep in the same clothes you wore while cooking as there will be cooking odors in the fabric. Don't dispose of food scraps by throwing them on the ground. If possible, burn them in your campfire. Hang your food from a tree at night. If you are camping in a car campsite, there should be bear-proof food storage bins in your campsite. If the park does not provide them, ask the staff if it is safe to store food in your vehicle. In some areas, bears have not learned to get food out of cars yet, so this would likely be safe. The staff at the park should be aware of the best way for visitors to secure their food. In other places, like Yosemite, bears know how to get food out of cars, so don't leave anything edible in the car. This includes scented items like toothpaste. Even a candy wrapper could attract a bear. Their noses are highly sensitive!

If you live in bear country, ask your garbage collection service to provide you with bear-resistant containers. The dumpster in the photos above was replaced with one with solid metal lids. It makes it more difficult for people to lift the lids, but it also keeps the bears out fairly well.  These dumpsters didn't cost any more than the old ones with plastic lids. You may also be able to obtain more sturdy curbside bins from the collection service. If you know when your bins are picked up, you can place them outside right before that time and thus minimize the time that garbage is outside where a bear could be attracted to it.

black bear visiting a campsite. Photo copyright by Karen Kurth 2007.

black bear visiting a campsite. Photo copyright by Karen Kurth 2007.

A black bear that visited the campsite of a friend of mine. These are the photos she got.
It was almost dark, so the camera flash went off, making the reflections in the bear's eyes.

 
The bear above did not exhibit much fear of humans. If a bear does this, it is probably becoming habituated. Once this happens, the bear could become a problem bear, coming into campsites and tearing them apart for food, or getting into garbage. To prevent habituation, make noise, bang pots together, throw rocks at the bear, use an air horn, or use a slingshot and marbles. The idea is to make the bear uncomfortable around people. Don't let the bear become used to being around people and getting food from their campsites. Once a bear learns this behavior, it will probably be killed because they never forget, and the bear will return again and again. Due to the potential for injury to humans, most parks simply kill the problem bear. Save a bear's life by properly storing your food and garbage at all time when in their habitat! Never try to take food from a bear that has raided your campsite, and never approach an aggressive bear. Let it have the food and let the park staff deal with the bear.
 

Bear Scat Aging Comparison

Black bear scat composed of seeds and berries. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Fairly fresh bear scat. It was two days old in this photo.

 

Black bear scat composed of seeds and berries. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Same scat 20 days later. It is beginning to fall apart and lose moisture.

 

black bear scat composed of seeds. Provided as an aging comparision with earlier photos of the same scat. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2006.

The same scat as above in April 2006. This scat is six months old, but it is still recognizable as a bear scat. The large quantity of seeds gives it away. This is way more seeds than you would find in the scat of, say, a coyote.

 

 

More Bear Scats

Black bear scat. Copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2003.

Black bear scat composed mostly of blackberries and their seeds. Bears feast on these early in summer before other foods are ripe.

 
Black bear scat. Copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2003.

Bear scat with blackberry and cherry pits.

   

Black bear scat with gray fox scat on top. Copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2003.

A large black bear scat composed entirely of apples. There is an old abandoned apple orchard near here and the bears feast on them in late summer. In the lower left corner is the scat of a gray fox. Foxes often deposit their scats on top of bear scats. Perhaps it's a way of marking territory. 
 
Black bear scat, composed of blackberries, on the edge of a pond. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The black bear that deposited this scat had traveled down a dirt road. He then walked off the road to the pond. I found this fresh scat deposited on the edge of the drying-up pond. There were a few plum pits, but this scat was composed mostly of blackberries. Notice the line of purple dye running from the scat and downhill to the right. This is typical of blackberry scats. The juice goes through the digestive tract and leaves a stain under the scat the bear leaves behind. This bear had tracks that were almost 8 inches long. The diet of blackberries is typical of late summer scats.

 
Location of Black bear scat, composed of blackberries, on the edge of a pond. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The location of the scat deposit above. The pond normally has a lot more water, but this was a dry year and it was slowly drying up. I have never seen the pond this low before.

 
 
 
   

Bear Tracks Compared to Human Tracks

It has been said that bear tracks resemble human tracks. With that in mind, I thought about making a comparison to my feet. When I found these perfect bear tracks in nice deep dust, I couldn't resist. Off came my shoes and I got my feet (and hands) dirty. Here are the results. Do bear tracks look like human tracks?
Black bear track comparison with human foot print. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.
 

Black bear track comparison with human foot print. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

The two photos above show hind feet of a black bear compared to the "hind" feet of a human. The human track is longer and the toes are not as curved. The bear's heel is narrower. The front part of both feet does show a resemblance. Bears do not always show their claw marks. The heel also does not always leave an imprint.
   
Black bear front track comparison with human hand print. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.
Comparison of a bear's front foot with a human's "front foot."
The resemblance to human feet only seems to apply to the hind feet! :)
 
Black bear left hind footprint. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.
The left hind track of a black bear in fine dusty soil. Some claw marks show in this photo.
 
Black bear left hind footprint. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.
A nice clear left hind track in dusty soil. Notice the marks left by the fur on the bear's foot and arm surrounding the track.
 
Black bear right hind footprint. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Right hind track in firmer dusty soil

 

 Black bear right front foot print. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

(Above and below) Two right front tracks from the same bear. Claw marks are visible on some toes.
Fur also left an imprint all around the tracks.

 
Black bear right front foot print. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

The two photos above show the two right front tracks from the same bear. Claw marks are visible on some toes.
Fur also left an imprint all around the tracks.

 
 

Black bear right hind foot print. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Black bear right hind track foot print. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Right hind print - one day old.

The same right hind print as in the photo at left, but this one is fresh. Notice the crisp edges of the track and the imprints left by fur. By the next day, these are gone, rounded off by wind and gravity.

Black bear track pair cast in plaster of Paris. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

A comparison of the feet of an adult and a cub. The cub's hind foot at left is smaller and less worn than the adult's front foot at right.

Black bear track pair. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Black bear right hind foot. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

A pair of black bear tracks. The lower left is the left hind foot. The upper right is the right front foot. The front feet toe in more than the hind feet, which tend to have a straighter line of travel.

Right hind track in firm soil

Black bear trail. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

Black bear trail. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

A comparison of sun angle on viewing tracks. The bear trail to the left was photographed with the tracks between the photographer and the sun. At right, the trail was photographed with the sun at the photographer's back. While the trail is visible, the best contrast is achieved by looking at the tracks with the sun on the opposite side of them.
 

 

   

Bear Feeding on Berries

Black bear feeding sign on berry vines. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

A black bear tore into these berry vines to feed on the berries, which were just beginning to ripen. The tracks and scat shown below are from this bear. Notice the contents of the scat - blackberry seeds!
   

Black bear scat or droppings. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

The scat from the bear above. Berry seeds are abundant. This is the primary food source available this time of year. The bluish color is from the berries. Often, the color will leach out when it rains, leaving purple stains on the ground around the droppings.
   

Black bear track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Black bear footprint. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Several nice hind tracks from the black bear above. These prints show the heel pads and toes, but no claw marks. Black bears do not always show their claw marks in the prints.
   

Black bear paw print. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Black bear pawprint. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Two hind track prints from the bear that had been feeding on the berries.

   

Black bear front track. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

Notice the kidney-bean shape of this front track. This is often the shape that tells me a bear track is on the trail. The toes did not leave an imprint, even in this soft soil. This is often the case with bear tracks. Sometimes, all you will see is that distinctive heel pad shape.
   
Black bear feeding signs on blackberry plants. The plants are taken into the bear's mouth and then the berries are stripped off. The bear tramples right into the thicket. They don't seem to be bothered by the thorns. Imagine if you were to trample over these vines barefoot! The bears do it all the time, but they have very thick pads on their feet and they don't get punctured like a human's foot would.

Black bear feeding signs on berry plants. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

   

Black bear feeding signs in blackberry plants. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

More feeding signs on blackberry plants. The bear trampled right into the plants. The thorns don't bother bears, apparently!
   

Tracks of a mother bear and two cubs crossing a bridge. Photo copyright Kim A. Cabrera 2008.

This set of tracks is from a mother bear and her two cubs. They had crossed this old abandoned Bailey bridge over Leggett Creek. The road leading to this bridge was used for logging about 30 years ago, then abandoned. It was recently re-opened, but is only accessible on foot. The bears used it to easily cross the deep creek canyon. On the other side, there was a trail under some berry brambles. Snagged on one vine, I found a strand of bear fur.
   
This piece of bear hair was found on the vine that the bears walked under after they crossed the Bailey bridge above.
 
A nice right hind bear track in dust. Notice the fur imprints on the left side.
 
Another nice bear track in dust. This is the left hind paw.
 
A pair of bear tracks in fine dust. The front track is on the left. The hind track is on the right. Both tracks are from the left paws.
 
For more about bear scats, visit the Black Bear Scat Page

Journey to Bear Orchard
Click on the photo above to take a Journey to Bear Orchard.

Personal Notes on Black Bears

 

I never lived in bear country until about 20 years ago, when I moved to northern California. Black bears are abundantbabybear here. No grizzlies live in California (except in zoos). The last California grizzly was shot in 1922 in Tulare County. In Humboldt County, where I live, the first explorers through the area encountered numerous grizzlies as they made their way south. This was in late 1849 and early 1850. In fact, one of the explorers was attacked by a grizzly near the present-day town of Miranda.

I have seen several black bears close up. One was raiding my garbage cans one night. I heard noise outside and opened the door to see what it was. I startled the bear, who ran about 50 feet, then climbed up a tree and clung there, looking at me and grunting. I went back inside to watch what it would do. It climbed down from the tree and cautiously approached the garbage again. I flung open the door and the bear took off running. (Don’t try this at home.)

smbear

The next bear I saw was a young one that had developed a taste for food from campsites that were unoccupied. (This happened in the park where I work summers.) I was working in the campground entrance one day when two guys came up and told me they’d seen a bear about 50 feet down the road. I went to look and, sure enough, there was the little bear. He stood still, thinking I hadn’t seen him. When I began to move down the road, he took off running for the brush. He stopped after a short distance and put his paws up on a tree as if to climb. When he realized I wasn’t following him, he sauntered off into the brush.

This same bear gave me an entertaining summer following his trails around the campground. Bears are fairly habitual and will stick around an area where there is easy food. This one decided that he liked the sort of foods people bring camping. He established a network of trails all the way around the campground perimeter, just out of sight. He’d keep himself hidden in the thick brush or up on an abandoned road that ran up a hill behind the camp. When someone left food out in a campsite, he would scurry down and grab it and cart it back up the hill, where he ate the prize.

His trail system provided him a highway between two campgrounds and some of his favorite resting areas. The best bear day bed that I’ve ever found was one this bear used. It was an old apple tree, overgrown with blackberry vines, and surrounded by brush and grass. The tree had a large, horizontal limb that provided the bear with a hammock in which to lounge away the warm summer days while he nibbled apples from the tree, or berries from the vines. The creek ran not 20 yards from the bear’s hangout, providing fresh water anytime. It was the perfect bear hangout. It has been used several years in a row now.

 
 

 

 

I find bears challenging to track because their feet are relatively flat. They walk plantigrade, or flat-footed. You would think that such a large animal would leave huge imprints. Actually, they don’t. Most of the time, the tracks I find are indistinct flattenings of the soil. It's like tracking someone walking around in their socks. Every once in a while, I find a nice clear print showing all five toes and maybe the claws. Usually the claw marks are not visible. And, sometimes, the fifth toe doesn’t make an imprint. Tracking bears is like tracking barefoot humans. There are no sharp edges on the feet to leave distinct impressions on the ground.

I’ve made plaster casts from numerous bear tracks. Recently, I made a cast of a print in fine river silt. The cast shows the hair on the foot!

Bears are intelligent animals and their trails will yield endless hours of entertainment, if you are willing to spend the time. You’ll learn a lot about bears just by following their tracks. It’s time well spent.

Black bear hind foot cast in plaster.

Plaster cast of the hind track of a young black bear. This is from a mold. Note the short claws and the shape of the heel pad. Claws do not always show in tracks.
The garbage in this photo was left behind by a black bear who raided my dumpster one night. I was outside and heard a crunching sound coming from the brush. I had found bear tracks earlier, so I knew who was probably out there in the brush. I got my air horn and flashlight and quietly made my way closer to the sound. The bear stepped out of the brush and I hit the air horn. That bear jumped and took off running! The way to keep bears out of your garbage it to re-educate them by making them think the garbage is an "unfriendly" place. Noise is a good way to do this. You have to start the bear re-education program before the bears have become used to getting into your garbage, otherwise, it's probably too late to re-train them.

Garbage carried into the brush by a bear who raided a dumpster. Photo © Kim A. Cabrera 2007

   

Black bear claw marks on lid of a dumpster. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

These five claw marks were left by a black bear that tried to get into a dumpster full of smelly garbage. Bears love to get into garbage and are able to open the plastic lids on dumpsters easily.
   

Log ripped into by black bear. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

Log ripped into by black bear. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2007.

These log stumps were torn into by a black bear.

 
 

Black bear right front foot print. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2004.

A beautiful right front track from a black bear in fine dust. The fur even left some imprints here.

 
Black bear left hind track. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera 2008.
A clear left hind track left in dust.
 
 
Tree climbed repeatedly by a black bear cub - Humboldt Redwoods State Park - Hamilton Barn Environmental Campground

This tree was climbed repeatedly by a black bear cub. The claw marks are two years old in this photo. This tree is located next to a trail leading to a small (3 campsites) primitive campground in northern California's redwood country. The bears were seen frequently that summer and one tent was ripped open by a bear trying to get food while the people were away from the campsite. The bears were not being aggressive. They simply are after food and there was food in the tent. Proper food storage would have prevented the damage done by the bear. They are curious and strong, but not confrontational.

 

 

 

The Bear in the Yard - A True Tale

A friend of mine is a park ranger at one of the California redwood state parks. He lives right in the park and has many species of wildlife that visit. One day, I went to visit and, as I drove up to their gate, I saw a covey of quail on the grass. I got out the camera and took a couple pictures of the quail. I had not looked up toward the gate because I was distracted by the quail. As the quail flew off, I turned my attention to the gate. Looking through it, I saw a big dark shadow under a tree moving. Sure enough, it was a bear! I got out of the car, walked up to the gate, and started taking photos of the bear. This was a black bear, the only species of bear found in the wild in California.  Bear in yard at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

bear looking at me

bear eating pears

The bear was happily feeding on pears that had fallen off a tree in the yard. These trees are part of an orchard left over from the builders of the house, who lived here before the land belonged to the park.
The park's campground is just across the road that is visible behind the bear in the photo below. Occasionally, bears visit the campground in search of scraps of food. The park has a bear management program which includes requiring campers to properly store their food in bear-proof lockers, disposing of waste in bear-proof garbage cans, and not feeding wildlife. The rules are strictly enforced because bears are intelligent animals. Once a bear learns it can get food from people, it will keep coming back for more. By educating the campers about how to camp in bear country, bear problems can be avoided.
bear showing location in yard The fence that completely encloses the yard is meant to keep out the elk, who live on the prairie here. This is the first view I had of the bear. It didn't seem bothered by my presence at first. I stayed on my side of the fence and took a few photos. The bear must have decided it didn't like being watched because it decided to leave. It climbed up on the fencepost behind it in one big leap. (Black bears climb very quickly.) It then dropped down on the other side and bounded away. Take a look at the two videos below to watch the bear feeding and jumping the fence.

VIDEO: Black bear feeding under a pear tree. (632K)

VIDEO: Black bear jumping over the fence and bounding away. (539K)

 

prints

prints

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Copyright © 1997, 2010, 2011, 2012. Text, photos*, and drawings by
Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design

*Except otherwise noted: Bear pictures from The Bear Den.
All track drawings, videos, and photos by Kim A. Cabrera

Page updated: December 12, 2012

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Find bears and bear tracks items in my  new store. Greeting cards, hats, calendars, posters, t-shirts, stickers,
clocks, and much more. Custom bear products are available. Just send me an email with your request.

Check out Beartracker's online store at: www.dirt-time.com   Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!

 

Find other tracking products: www.zazzle.com/tracker8459*

 

Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.

ASL Signs of Love - For anyone who uses or is learning ASL, American Sign Language. Custom name items and more are available here.

Get Every Child Outdoors (Get E.C.O.) - My shop dedicated to nature and getting kids interested in nature and the outdoors.

Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!

 

Looking for a Gift? This site lets you customize a gift card with your own photo. Commissions earned when you buy from this link help keep Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den online! Thank you!

 Gift Card Lab - Create Photo Gift Cards Online

 

 

If you wish to help keep this site online, donations are accepted through PayPal.
Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den is provided as a free service, but your
donations are sincerely appreciated to pay the monthly hosting fees.
If you do not wish to donate, we do have a store where you can purchase
custom tracking items.
Thank you and happy tracking!

 

 

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