How to Track a Bear

When camping or hiking in the woods, you should be mindful of bears. Whether you want to track them or steer clear of them, you should be able to recognize signs that bears are in the area. Here are some tips on what to look for to track bears:

  • Tracks A bear's rear footprints look somewhat similar to human feet, only much larger. Bear tracks show five toes for both front and hind feet. Front tracks generally range from 3.75 to 8 inches (9.5 to 20 centimeters) long and 3.25 to 6 inches (8 to 15 centimeters) wide. Hind prints are between 5.25 and 8.8 inches (14 and 22 centimeters) long and 3.5 and 6 inches (9 and 15 centimeters) wide [source: Alderleaf Wilderness College]. You can tell if it's a black or grizzly bear in the area based on the tracks. Grizzly bears have long claws extending up to 4 inches (10 centimeters). A better indicator is that black bears have slightly separated toes, while grizzlies' toes are usually joined together [source: Cameron].
  • Tree markings Bears mark their territory by biting or scraping trees. Some bears will mark the same trees repeatedly. Some trees may be scratched by numerous bears, or repeatedly by the same bear, over the years. Some bear marks can permanently scar tree bark [source: Cameron].
  • Droppings When bears are feeding, you can usually find their defecations in the area. Bear scat is usually found in piles, and is tubular and segmented in shape. When solid, it usually measures 1.25 to 2.5 inches (3 to 6 centimeters) in diameter and 5 to 12 inches (13 to 30 centimeters) long [source: Alderleaf Wilderness College].
  • Other signs of bears Other possible signs of bears include overturned rocks, torn apart rotten trees, trampled vegetation and large diggings in the ground [source: BCParks]. //]]]]> ]]>