Bear Scat Identification Guide | Black and Grizzly Images - Greenbelly Meals

Bear Scat Identification


A guide to identifying bear scat. What it looks like, images, diet, color, size and shape.

bear scat identification

pxhere.com

You might come across some droppings on the trail and wonder "what kind of animal is this from?". In this guide, you will learn how to identify bear scat and distinguish it from other droppings you commonly find on the trail.

Note you are more likely to stumble upon scat than an actual bear. Though they make for a great fireside tale, encounters can be relatively rare. 

bear scat identification images

BLACK BEAR SCAT: How to Identify


If you find scat that looks like it came from Andre the Giant, then you may have stumbled upon bear scat. Bear scat is tubular like human feces but larger (5 to 12-inches long and 1.5 to 2.5-inches diameter). Black bear scat is most often found along trails or at the base of trees or plants.

1. SHAPE AND SIZE: Black bear scat is often tubular with a blunt end and a slight taper. It may appear as a loose "cowpile" when the bear is feeding heavily on fruits and berries.

2. CONTENTS: Black bear scat is usually filled with vegetation and insect parts in the spring and early summer. When berry season hits, scat is deposited as loose blobs that are filled with berries and seeds. Bears are omnivores so you may find the remains of deer or moose calves and small mammals.

3. COLOR: Scat color can range from black to brown when the bear is eating a mixed diet and green when eating mostly grasses.

black bear scat

commons.wikimedia.org


GRIZZLY BEAR SCAT: How to Identify


Black bear scat and brown/grizzly bear scat are so similar that they are difficult to tell apart. In general, scat from the brown/grizzly bear tends to be larger (2-inches or more in diameter) than black bear scat. 

1. SHAPE AND SIZE: Similar to the black bear, grizzly bear scat is fibrous and tubular when the bear is consuming vegetation in the spring and early summer. The scat can turn black, moist and smelly when the bear turns to meat as a food source and globular when consuming berries.

2. CONTENTS: Grizzly scat contains berries, vegetation, roots/tubers, cutworm moth parts and remains from moose, elk, mountain goats, and sheep. Coastal brown bears will have fish parts in their scat.

3. COLOR: Scat color can range from black to brown when the bear is eating a mixed diet and green when eating mostly grasses.

grizzly Bear Scat

nps.gov


Know the Bear's Habitat


One of the easiest ways to distinguish your bear scat is by simply knowing what part of the country you are in. There are only a few regions that contain both black and grizzly.

BLACK BEAR: The most common bear is the black bear, which is found in 40 US states.

GRIZZLY BEAR: The brown bear, which includes the grizzly and Kodiak bear, is located in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Alaska. In the US, brown bears are coastal bears, while grizzlies are found inland. Kodiaks are the biggest of the brown bears and found only in Alaska. There also are polar bears which are located in Alaska living along the shore or on sea ice.

black bear grizzly bear population and distribution united states

geology.com


Other Signs of Bears in the Area


Bears leave behind markers other than scat. All bears have five rounded toes and a wide heel pad that produces an oval-shaped print. Their tracks are larger than most other animals and easy to spot in soft mud or a dusty dry trail.  On trees, you may also see bite marks, fur from rubbing and claw marks from bears climbing to get nuts, fruits or other edibles.

bear scratches on tree

usgs.gov


ANIMAL SCAT: How to Identify (and Distinguish from)


COYOTE

Coyote scat is tubular like a bear but smaller in size. The scat is 5-inches long and 3/4-inch in diameter. It is deposited as a tubular twisted rope with a twisted end which distinguishes it from the straight blunt tubes of the bear. There is usually fur and bones along with fruits, berries and vegetation. Coyotes often leave scat as a territorial marker and drop their piles in the middle of trails.

coyote scat

animalia-life.club


RACCOON

Raccoons usually defecate in the same area creating latrines that are overflowing with scat. Raccoon scat is blunt and small measuring only 2 to 3 inches long and 1/2-inch wide. Raccoons are omnivores, so their scat is filled with seeds, insects, nuts, and fur. DO NOT TOUCH raccoon scat as it may contain an infectious roundworm.

raccoon scat

i1.wp.com


BOBCAT

Bobcat scat also is tubular like a bear, but smaller, rounder and distinctly segmented, which is characteristic for feline scat. It is very dense and won't compress when you step on it. The scat is 3 to 5 inches long and 0.5 to 1-inch in diameter. It contains fur and bones along with fruit, berries and grass. You also may see a scrape from the bobcat trying to cover up its scat.   

bobcat scat

i1.wp.com


COUGAR

Cougar scat is similar to bobcat scat but is larger averaging 4 to 6 inches long and 1 to 1.5-inches in diameter.  It is segmented and may have a blunt end on one side and a taper on the other. Cougars are carnivores so their scat will contain fur and bones. There also may be scrapes near the scat.

cougar scat

flickr.com


BISON/ COW

Bison and cattle produce globular scat like a bear, so you need to look closely at the content to tell them apart. Cattle and bizon graze primarily on vegetation, so their scat is fibrous from the grasses they consume. Globular bear scat is mostly berries.

buffalo cow scat

polygon.com


DOG

Last, but not least is man's best friend. Dog scat is tubular like the bear, but is smaller than bear droppings (less than 1-inch in diameter). Like most canine scat, it is twisted with tapered ends. When fresh, it has a strong smell.

dog scat dog shit

commons.wikimedia.org


DEER/ ELK

Members of the deer family produce pellet-shaped scat that is much different from a bear. Deer and elk may sometime produce globular scat, but you can recognize the pellets even when the scat is deposited in a clump.

deer elk scat

nzhuntingandshooting.co.nz


FOX

Fox deposit tubular scat, but it is much smaller in size than a bear scat, measuring only 3 to 6 inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter.  Fox scat also is tapered and twisted in appearance like the other canines. Fresh fox scat may have a distinct musky scent.

fox scat

sciencesource.com


MICE/ RAT

Rodents are another group of animals that produce a pellet-shaped scat. The scat measures between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch long and can be deposited in a line or a small pile. You will find mouse scat in shelters and other areas where there is food.

mice rat mouse scat

flickr.com


TURKEY

Most birds produce an amorphous scat that has no defined shape. It is loose and splatters when it lands. It often is dark in color with a white urea deposit. Turkey and grouse produce a scat that is more cylindrical, but their scat is tiny (3/8 inch diameter) compared to a bear. Both turkey and grouse will have a white spot on one end from uric acid. Turkey scat often has a hook or ‘J' shape on one end.

bird turkey scat

junglepete.blogspot.com.es



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By Kelly Hodgkins: Kelly is a full-time backpacking guru. She can be found on New Hampshire and Maine trails, leading group backpacking trips, trail running or alpine skiing.
About Greenbelly: After thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, Chris Cage created Greenbelly to provide fast, filling and balanced meals to backpackers. Chris also wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail.



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