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Thread: How do you tell a Black Bear Track from A Brown Bear Teack....???

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    Default How do you tell a Black Bear Track from A Brown Bear Teack....???

    It is all in the title........How do you tell a Black Bear track from a Brown Bear/Grizzly track........???

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    Size, shape and claws showing or not. Generally speaking, most black bear tracks that I see from the front paws are about 3-5 inches wide. Most brown bear tracks I see are 5-9 inches wide. Of course there is some overlap, but then you also look at shape and claws. Black bear tracks (front paws) appear more rounded/oval in shape to me. Brown bear tracks are more rectangular or wider than they are long. Black bears claws are more retractable. So the claws rarely show. Sometimes they show in the mud or snow, but only on occasion. Brown bear claws almost always show. Plus they are located fairly far away from the toe prints. I never measured how far, but I would guess anywhere from 1/2 inch to and inch in front of the toes. Those are some of the things I look for. How about you AGL4now? I thought you lived around hundreds of bears. I would think you would know better than most.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    How about you AGL4now? I thought you lived around hundreds of bears. I would think you would know better than most.
    I want to see where this goes. I'll jump in later. Thanks for the post.

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    How about you AGL4now? I thought you lived around hundreds of bears. I would think you would know better than most.
    I think this is a trick question......
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4merguide View Post
    I think this is a trick question......
    ...bear track baiting.
    ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
    I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
    The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It

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    Member 7mmstalker's Avatar
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    I'll take the bait. . . . . .

    The black bear sign will be smaller, and as noted above, not often showing claw imprints. Normally found in front of you.
    Brown bear tracks will be more rectangular-wider than long on the main pad- usually showing distinct claw imprints 1"-2" ahead of the toe pads.
    Frequently found behind the tracker!

  7. #7

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    This is NOT a trick thread. You are not being trapped. Just answer the question. I'll explain later.

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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    There is a space between pad and tip of claws on brown bear.
    Now left only to be a turd in the forrest and the circle will be complete.Use me as I have used you

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushwhack Jack View Post
    How about you AGL4now? I thought you lived around hundreds of bears. I would think you would know better than most.
    The key difference is Black Bears retract theirs claws when they walk. Generally Black Bear tracks do "NOT" show claw imprints, unless the print is more then 3/4" deep. Because the claws are retracted, unlike a Brown Bear which does not retract their claws and tips impact the ground with every step. Brown Bear tracks always show claw imprints because they can't retract their claws.

    Note: Sometimes if surface conditions are such that a Black Bear needs traction, for example going up a steep incline, it will extend is claws, or when running and needs more traction, otherwise the claws are retracted.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    ​Bears can't retract their claws.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    ​Bears can't retract their claws.
    Then feel free to explain why it leaves no claw imprint in a track. And yet still magically can climb. Does it have suction cups.......???

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    bushrat is exactly right...black bears have non-retractable claws!!! Here's something from the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website....
    "Compared to a black bearís tracks, grizzly

    tracks of the front feet are more square. If
    you take a straight edge and hold it across
    the track of a grizzly front foot, just in front
    of the pad and behind the toe on either side,
    it will not cross the toe on the other side of
    the foot. A black bear front track is more
    rounded and a straight edge will cross the
    toe on the other side of the foot".


  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by OUGHTSIX View Post
    bushrat is exactly right...black bears have non-retractable claws!!! Here's something from the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website....
    "Compared to a black bearís tracks, grizzly

    tracks of the front feet are more square. If
    you take a straight edge and hold it across
    the track of a grizzly front foot, just in front
    of the pad and behind the toe on either side,
    it will not cross the toe on the other side of
    the foot. A black bear front track is more
    rounded and a straight edge will cross the
    toe on the other side of the foot".


    This is the best way to determine Black vs. Grizzly tracks, and photos of paws....
    see link for a picture of this line test.

    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...ing.bearchoice

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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    Then feel free to explain why it leaves no claw imprint in a track. And yet still magically can climb. Does it have suction cups.......???
    Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I think it depends on the type of ground they're walking on.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now
    Then feel free to explain why it leaves no claw imprint in a track. And yet still magically can climb. Does it have suction cups.......???


    I thought you were a former guide? Black bear claws are shorter and more curved than grizz/brown bear. That's what allows them to climb trees so well. You often won't see claw marks in black bear tracks, depending on the surface, cuz they don't extend as far as grizz/brown bear.

  16. #16

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    I spend a lot of time watching bears on the Turnagain Arm flats. I watch them and I examine their tracks. Black Bears no claw imprint unless the pad and toe imprint sinks in "At Least" 3/4 inch deep. That means that when they walk the claw tips are roughly 3/4 inch above the bottom of the toe. So if they do not retract or extend their claws in any way, to any extent.......then they should NOT be able to climb trees. And I have watched a lot of bears on the Turnagain Arm tide clay-silt beach over the last 48 years, both Black and Brown Bears.

    I make the same observation (with "much" less frequency) in the muddy trails along the Chugach Electric powerline.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Bears can still use their toes on front feet like fingers, bend or curl them inward for better grip on trees etc. And of course claws are attached to the toes. This is where you may be confusing that with the opposite of retracting.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    Bears can still use their toes on front feet like fingers, bend or curl them inward for better grip on trees etc. And of course claws are attached to the toes. This is where you may be confusing that with the opposite of retracting.
    Even so, that still means that the toe impedes the claw making contact, if the claw tip is above the bottom of the toe. Either they make the toe disappear or some how flatten, there no way for claw to make contact. I say, "They must be able to extend the claws for climbing". And it must be to a fairly substantial amount.

    Even if the claw tip was even with the bottom of the toe when walking (which it is not) it would still need the ability to extend the claws. Otherwise only the toe and not the claw would contact the tree.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by walking buffalo View Post
    This is the best way to determine Black vs. Grizzly tracks, and photos of paws....
    see link for a picture of this line test.

    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...ing.bearchoice
    Notice that in the photo of the tracks, the grizzly track is well less then half as deep as the black bear track. Which track shows clear claw marks, and which does not.....even as the Black Bear track is more then twice as deep......???

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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    Then feel free to explain why it leaves no claw imprint in a track. And yet still magically can climb. Does it have suction cups.......???
    I by no means have as much "on hands" experience as most of you but here's a possible explanation to this riddle. Bears are plantigrade, which means they distribute their weight toward their hind feet when they walk. This, along with the fact that their hind claws are shorter than the front ones, may be the reason for the absence of claw imprints in most tracks you see. Just a thought.

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