Bear footprint

While in the wild, it is sometimes important to be able to determine the type of animal from its tracks left on snow or soft soil. This will help you find out which animals live in this area, how long they have passed and how far they can be from your location. This is necessary during hunting when tracking prey. In addition, the identification of traces is necessary, first of all, for safety purposes, in order to be prepared for an accidental encounter with an animal. Sometimes it is necessary to change the route of movement in order to avoid meeting with a wounded animal. The most recognizable paw print that you can stumble into in the forest is the bear’s footprint. A photo of the bear’s footprint can be found in this article.

Bear trace: photo

A characteristic feature of the bear’s footprints is its club foot: the toe looks inward and the heel is outward.

The pattern of the trace of the front legs of the brown bear is always clear, with prints of all five fingers. In front of the pads on the ground or in the snow, there are deep grooves from the claws that do not retract into the pads of the fingers, like in cats. Behind the pillows on the ground, you can see a wide distinct imprint formed by the metacarpal crumb. On the inside, it is narrower, expanding to the outer edge. Thanks to this crumb, the age of the animal can be determined. The wider it is, the older the bear. Thus, the width of the metacarpal crumb in a teddy bear is usually 5-6 cm, while in an adult it reaches 20 or even 30 cm. This refers to a very large bear. The width of the bear’s crumb is slightly smaller than that of the male: it is 11-18 cm versus 14-18 cm. The size of the prints in the snow, especially on the fragile infusion, does not always reflect the real picture and helps to represent the age of the animal, since in winter it is much larger than the true size paws. It depends on the degree of snow thawing during thaw, pubescence of paws, and the ability to spread fingers.

The imprint of the hind paw of a brown bear always looks like a full sole with the display of all five fingers. The view of the fingers of the hind paw of a bear looks like the opposite of a person’s foot: the smallest fingers emerge from the inside of the sole, the size of the rest increases as you approach the outside. The claws near each finger are also clearly visible, but on the hind legs they are shorter (usually 5 cm) and more bent than on the front legs, which can be longer than 10 cm.

Bear footprint

In summer, bearish clear tracks can be seen on sand, damp ground, but the trace chain is not as noticeable as in winter.

Bear footprints in winter

When hunting a bear while hunting, it is very important to determine how long it has passed. To do this, you need to be able to recognize the freshness of the footprint of a bear. Traces of a bear in the snow can only be seen in late autumn. Perhaps this is in the winter, but it will already be the prints of a connecting rod bear, which should beware. You should be wary and change the route if you notice footprints of bear paws in the early spring or winter, at which time the beast is hungry and dangerous. If there was snowfall at night or in the evening, and the prints were not powdered, then they are fresh, the bear passed several hours ago. Rangers are able to determine the freshness of the paw print to the touch: during frosty weather, the snow becomes dry and hard. In this case, the edges of the print become harder with time as the temperature decreases, i.e. if the borders of the footprint in friability do not differ from the surrounding snow, the bear passed recently, and vice versa. In summer, the freshness of the track can be determined by the degree of filling of the indentation from the sole with water, the weathering and aridity of its borders. It is always possible to determine the degree of weathering or aridity of a print if you compare it with your fresh footprint placed next to it. The fewer differences between the two prints, the fresher the trace. A simple way to determine the degree of prescription of the left fingerprint is to separate a thin branch of the track in the snow. If it is shared with ease, it is fresh, if it is difficult, then it is left for a long time, at least a day ago.

Bear footprints in the snow

In order to learn how to correctly assess the degree of freshness of prints on various surfaces in winter and summer, you can practice before the planned hike in the forest: leave hand or foot prints in the evening, and in the morning assess their condition and external signs under certain weather conditions or snow conditions.

From the print on the snow, you can also determine the direction of movement of the animal. In large animals such as the bear, this is not difficult at all: the front edge of the track will look steeper than the rear. Thus, the bear moves in the direction indicated by the deeper edge of its print on the snow.


The fact that a bear’s den is located nearby can be identified by the following characteristic signs: broken-off spruce branches, torn moss, or blueberry branches (their animal uses litter inside the den for use). A hole is usually noticeable for entering the den itself: the snow along its edges has a yellowish tint. The hole is usually facing south.

The trace of a polar bear is different from the imprint of a brown bear. It is characterized by the presence of a fingerprint pattern and a claw print. The shape of his paws is more accurate, because they are less calloused than a brown bear. The hind legs of a polar bear leave imprints in the snow with traces of fur: this resembles the strips left by a broom in the snow, especially if it is loose.

What the bear’s footprint looks like: other features

In addition to the paw print, bear marks can be recognized by other features. So, after a long hibernation, in the spring, awakened animals ruin anthills in search of food, breaks up rotten stumps, collects the tops of thin aspens in one arm. An anthill ravaged by a bear can be easily distinguished from the feeding tracks of hazel grouse, wood grouse or woodpeckers. The bear blows the tip of the anthill for about three quarters, scattering it around the surrounding area for one or two meters. In the second case, the birds feed on the anthill, digging shallow holes on the side of it or making one or two narrow, long tunnels leading to the middle of the anthill. In autumn, you can see a lot of broken branches on the trees: thus, the clubfoot tries to get to the fruits of the trees. At the same time, there are often other noticeable marks on the trees: scratches, narrow strips of torn bark, scuffs, wool residues, badass. You can find out signs that cubs climbed trees by four deep, oblique strips left on the tree bark, since the fifth finger is not involved. The direction of the stripes is from top to bottom.

Bear footprint - drawing

In summer, the bear trail can be identified by the crushed stems and leaves of plants, which then dry out a little and change their color, so it becomes very noticeable against the rest of the earth's surface.


The drawing taken from the special literature, with which it is necessary to compare the actual footprint in the snow or on the ground, will most accurately help determine the bear’s footprint. This example will help establish the affiliation of a particular animal, its age, condition, direction of movement, as well as the limitation of passage through the forest.

Watch the video: What does a bear footprint look like? (April 2020).