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Thread: Black Bear Tracks?

  1. #1
    Senior Member 1HappyHiker's Avatar
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    Black Bear Tracks?

    One of the many things Iím NOT is an expert in animal tracks! Today while hiking on the abandoned trail to Mt. Bemis (off the Nancy Pond Trail), I came across animal tracks shown in the photo below. I only took this one photo (in retrospect, I probably should have taken more).

    Anyway, there were several prints like the one shown in the photo, and they appeared to be relatively fresh. Does anyone know if these are black bear tracks? If they are, isnít this a bit late in the season for these guys to be out and about? Shouldnít they be in a den somewhere?!

    Last edited by 1HappyHiker; 12-04-2008 at 04:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member grouseking's Avatar
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    Looks like them to me.

    I have a pic on this site that is a bear track, I think.

    http://www.wunderground.com/wximage/...y=#slideanchor

    hopefully that link works.

    grouseking

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    Senior Member NewHampshire's Avatar
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    The contrast on my computer screen makes it a bit tough to see, but from what I can I would say yes it is a bear. The digits appear to lign up across the pad an I see what appears to be claw marks. A good rule of thumb is if you see no claws it is feline (and around here that either means house cat or bobcat family) and if you see claw marks you can break it down like this:

    Digits (5 of them) generally line up across the front of the pad: Bear

    Digits (4 of them) form a chevron like pattern: Canine family (around here pretty much means domestic dog or coyote)

    Brian
    Last edited by NewHampshire; 12-03-2008 at 09:11 PM.
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    Senior Member Jason Berard's Avatar
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    I've actually been seeing a lot of bear tracks near me in the last couple weeks.....I don't think they're holed up for the winter yet.

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    Senior Member NewHampshire's Avatar
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    While not common bears can, and do, occasionally come out of hybernation in the dead of winter. Odds are the swine (yes, bears are actually related to the pig family ) are getting some last minute bulk up feeding done before they hit the ole snooze button for winter.

    Brian
    Adopter: Wildcat Ridge Trail from Rt.16 to Wildcat "D". If you have any issues please contact me!

  6. #6
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    It has been a poor mast year (acorns, nuts, etc.). Around my house the squirrels are eating the mini pears on my Bradford Pear trees (purely decorative), along with the robins and other birds.

    See also here: http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Wild...Track_Card.pdf - it includes raccoons, fishers, minks, otters, skunk, beaver, and a few others not mentioned by Brian above. Of course it includes moose and deer too, but they are kind of hard to miss. Maybe a small moose looks like a big deer.

    Tim
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Mattl's Avatar
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    Certainly is a bear, look at the middle pad area and claws. As was already mentioned, bears may stay out to fatten up further if they did not find enough before the snow came. Seeing how those tracks were above 3000 feet, at this time of year, makes me think he is looking to den up right now. They often den at higher elevations for many reasons, more snow, more cave like outcroppings, more solitude.

    -Matt

  8. #8
    Senior Member The Hikers's Avatar
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    We saw tracks like that (Black Bear),Moose, plenty of Deer,all well preserved in the crusted snow in the Ossipees yesterday. Also some lone canine had kept strictly on the trail leading us all the way out.

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    Lots of bear tracks around now, as they fatten up. Did the Moats yesterday and saw half a dozen cross the trail up on the ridge. I mentioned this to a friend who said that if the chippies are still out gathering, certainly the bears will be too! Also, Eric Orff, once a fish and game biologist, is doing talks now on global warming, and says that he is seeing animals of all sizes from red efts to bears hibernating later.

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    Senior Member gaiagirl's Avatar
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    Black Bears are deep sleepers, not technically hibernators, and it's true that they often won't retire to their dens until later than in the past.

    It has been a great mast year here in the White Mountains. Beech nuts and especially acorns are incredibly abundant. Out in our woods in October and into early November we could actually hear the acorns dropping to the ground amid the relative silence out on the trails.
    Chris

    In this crowded world, our sense of coexistence with wilderness life can be enforced by heights that are hard to climb. --- John Hay

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    Senior Member 1HappyHiker's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for responding to my question about the tracks that I saw yesterday on the side of Mt. Bemis. From your responses, it seems pretty definite that the tracks were indeed bear tracks!

    OK, itís not my intent to prolong this thread with yet another question, but I have another question!

    Although I donít do winter camping, Iím just curious. Does this mean that for those who do winter camp, they need to continue to take preventative measures to protect their food supplies well into late Autumn/early Winter?

  12. #12
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1HappyHiker View Post
    Although I donít do winter camping, Iím just curious. Does this mean that for those who do winter camp, they need to continue to take preventative measures to protect their food supplies well into late Autumn/early Winter?
    Black bears do occasionally get up and wander around during the winter, but according to something that I read, they are not really looking for food.

    In general, bears are not a problem in winter, but rodents, raccoons, etc will happily partake of your food.

    Doug

  13. #13
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gaiagirl View Post
    It has been a great mast year here in the White Mountains. Beech nuts and especially acorns are incredibly abundant. Out in our woods in October and into early November we could actually hear the acorns dropping to the ground amid the relative silence out on the trails.
    The acorns are nowhere to be found in my yard (Bedford, NH.) I remember hearing a story on NHPR about it being a poor mast year. Interesting that it is different in the mountains. I attributed it (strictly a guess) to being so wet for 6 weeks this summer. Most years I'm rolling ankles on the dang things while raking leaves. Not this year.

    Incidentally, a mother who we occasionally see at the bus stop says her neighbor had a mother bear with three cubs living in / near her backyard. My bird feeder got torn down late last winter and now I'm betting I know why.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  14. #14
    Senior Member DrewKnight's Avatar
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    Yep -- the bears do seem to be out and about, at least in the southern Whites. On Sunday morning, I found juvenile bear tracks in the snow in our driveway. I honestly figured that they would be down for the winter, but one of the tradesmen working on our house is an avid hunter-sportsman and said they are clearly up late this year. He said that they tend to stay out later if it is a good-mast year, though that's contrary to what I had heard, as you say, Tim.

  15. #15
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    This link (NHPR.org) explains the cycle, somewhat, and suggests that it is good berry year (but does not say it is a bad acorn or beechnut year. I do not believe this is the story I heard, but it could have been and I may have interpreted it's reference to bumper year berries as an implication that it wasn't a good mast year.

    I will say that I saw way more wild turkeys around the yard than in years past, which according to the link above indicates a leaner year of food in the forest.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

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