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Black Bears Leave Their Mark

10/21/2010
The American black bear, one of the largest an...

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markings on a tree

Are These Bear Claw Markings?

While walking in the woods with my cats, I came across some signs that the bear or bears had been looking for food.
I know that black bears will tear up dead trees looking for bugs to eat and there are quite a few dead trees in my woods that look as if that is just what happened.
Then I came across this tree where the bark had been stripped off and was lying all around the base of the tree. Upon closer inspection, I also found these horizontal markings in the wood on the tree.
I know there is at least one bear that has a trail of sorts through the woods in that area. I’ve found a valley full of very large boulders back in the woods and have seen the bear myself at the top of the hill, standing in the road.

dead tree bark on the ground

Bark Scattered At The Base Of This Tree

Just this summer my neighbors older kids were up the road in the “bear area” picking blackberries when they were frightened by a baby black bear that came trotting out of the bush.
Knowing that the mama was surely close by, they screamed, dropped their berries and high-tailed it home!
So what do you think, or know, about these markings? They are on a standing, dead tree and are noticeable in many various spots on the tree running horizontally and reaching up about 5 feet. Am I correct in assuming that a bear left these gouges in the tree while ripping off the bark? My other guess would be that insects living inside the tree, underneath the bark, made little tunnels in the wood.

claw marks on a tree

Bear Claws?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. killlashandra permalink
    10/21/2010 12:47 pm

    Yes. At least that what I remember when given the beat lecture on some past trip. You guys be careful, bears are really problematic especially if they find easy food. And this one seems practically in your backyard.

    • 10/21/2010 1:18 pm

      So good to hear from you killlashandra! Thanks for the tip. Yes, I don’t like him, her or them being so close, but I live in the boonies and I make lots of noise when I walk in the woods. Hope all is well with you.

  2. 10/21/2010 7:53 pm

    Are those marks on a vertical standing tree? Are they horizontal marks? Doesn’t seem to me that a bear would turn his paw sideways to make horizontal marks. And I don’t think bears have six claws. I don’t have a black belt in woodsmanship, but it almost looks like the marks a kid might make playing around with a handheld saw. If it was a flexible blade, the marks wouldn’t necessarily be perfectly straight. But, like I said, I’m not a woodsman. How deep were the marks? I agree with Killashandra about bears being potentially dangerous. Used to be that the genes of bears who weren’t afraid of humans would disappear from the earth as humans killed them off. Only the ones who ran away would be able to reproduce. But as man encroaches on former wildlife habitat, and hunting them is limited to only certain periods during the year, they seem to be losing their fear of humans. Maybe you should take some noisemakers with you when you trek through the woods.

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