Do I have a Bear problem?

I wonder what animal may have done this. Regard the photos at the top of the page at my Photobucket page. The guest password is " cecil "

The tree is 31 inches in diameter and the damage area is roughly 8 feet along the trunk. The shredded chips below speak of deep digs. We do have bear in the area. Two days ago a friend a mile away had a big and baby bear walk across her front yard and she is very much on a typical suburban street with houses on… what? 1/4 acre lots?

I can’t think of what else it could be. The shredded has grown in the last few weeks, as though it is a favorite place to come and sharpen one’s claws. I think of my indoor housecats, eagerly clawing at the runner of carpeting on the steps.

Big claws, we’re looking at here. Bear? Something else?


Yikes! That’s scary!

Sure looks like it to me, especially since one has been spotted your neighborhood recently.

How long has that tree been dead?
Is the wood dry and hard or soft and punky?
Are there claw marks or is the bark just being peeled off?

It’s early in the season, but I’m thinking it’s deer rubbing the velvet off their antlers.

CMC fnord!

A buck can do that, when it’s time to rub the velvet off the antlers. It itches a lot, and they’ll rub on anything for relief.

Doubt it’s a deer. The shredding is harder to see- damned flash. I will take a few more later today without flash.

The shredding happens up over on top , and the height from the ground is…hmm…5-8 feet on the diagonal. If that’s a young buck, baby that’s one big buck.

The tree is about 50% to soft, I know what you are talking about. It’s been dead over for about 8 months, since last winter.

Claw marks. Well, no marks like an animal touched only but the shredding is deep and grooved, not lighter and rub-mark like.

Will attempt to show close-up of marks and return for further analysis.

All I can get the page to do is log in for you, and then I’m at my account. I have no idea what’s up with that. Not seeing the marks I’d have to say it was the Mothman.

Hunter/nature enthusiast checking in. I’m primarily familiar with the fauna of Virginia’s forests, not those of New York State. That being said, the only animal I would imagine doing something like this in Virginia is a black bear, from what I know about the fauna of New York, I can’t think of any other animals there that would do it either.

Deer (bucks) will rub their antlers over trees, leaving markings. Sometimes they do it to clean the velvet off their antlers or as a way of strengthening their necks (for use in fights against other bucks), or during the rut (when does are in estrus) they will rub trees as they have sweat glands in their forehead area that will deposit scent on the trees they rub. Rubbings done for this reason are usually fairly obvious because they will usually mark several trees in a line and there will usually be one tree where they do their primary rubbing and it will have fairly extensive bark removal.

A deer rubbing a tree could do something like this, however the angle at which the tree lays and the height of the markings makes me doubt that a deer would be able to do this easily. Deer tend to prefer standing trees and tend to mark in a vertical line.

You can look for other signs of bear in the area, such as droppings and scars on trees (left after bears climb them to get nuts at the top.) Whether or not you have a bear problem sort of depends. If you start having bear come on to your property because you leave food or garbage out, then you do have a bear problem, otherwise probably not. Black bear are generally wary of humans and unless you leave food out a lot they shouldn’t bother you. This kind of clawing IMO is not typical of the markings that bears do to mark territory, but instead looks like the bear was taking bark to use as bedding (a common practice.) Bear leave markings on trees for various reasons. Sometimes they rip open fallen trees to get at ant colonies inside. Sometimes they rub their backs on trees (in that case it looks like someone has “grated” the bark, not stripped it clean–this also usually leaves fur on the tree that would be obvious) or they claw trees to mark territory (this again, won’t usually cause a tree to look “skinned” like this.)

You might check to see if there are any nearby telephone poles or signposts in the woods, bear love rubbing their backs against telephone poles and it is rare that one goes unmolested in an area with bear activity.

I agree that it is probably a bear that did this because of the height and angle. Plus in my experience if you see one rubbing, and it’s a deer, you should see more, they especially like to tear up small saplings.

Shredding isn’t necessarily indicative of a bear versus a deer, because I’ve seen trees that deer have torn up so badly it looks like they exploded from the inside. Deer can do a lot of damage when rubbing their antlers on trees.

Sorry about that. ::shrug::


Based on the photo, and my experience in the woods, I’m going with a bear. Nothing else in the Northeast is big enough to cause that sort of damage. Let me know if you need a hunter! :smiley:

Your cat, on the other hand, is a mirror image of mine. If you lived a bit further east in my area, I’d claim that you were somehow a co-owner of my Tuxedo.

I’ve added four close up shots to the same site, same link.

Yeah. I’m feeling bear too. :eek:

I don’t hunt, and besides, the bear was out there in the scaaaaaary woods late at night.

Like I’m gonna go out there in the scary woods late at night? I think not !


Missed this. I was having the same problem as I too have a photobucket account, when I put in the password Cartooniverse gave, it kept opening my albums. To make it work correctly you have to log out of your photobucket account completely and then try again, it worked for me after doing this.

Also, looking at the new pictures it looks very definitively like a tree a bear has ripped bark from to make bedding. Antlers would have made, IMO, different impressions in the tree (at least usually.)

Looks like a bear to me as well. It’s either you do have a bear problem or the bear has a people problem. Only figure this one out is a bear-human pit fight to the death.

While I feel your solution may be a bit over the top, in the fight against ignorance no effort is too extreme.

It was very nice knowing all of you.

chaoticbear? That was just extremely funny.

butler1850, never know. He’s a mutt we adopted from a county animal shelter. Imagine? Littermates, reuinted through The Straight Dope ??!!!??!!!

Martin Hyde , regarding your post #8? I’ve looked around and as near as I can tell, no telephone poles have been molested by bears. :eek:

Martin Hyde thanks I got too see the pictures.

I agree that deer can make the tree look like that too. The fact that the shredding is on the top of the trunk means little, unless the tree has been on it’s side for a long time. The tree could have gone over as a result of the rubbing. This is a general observation.

Even if this tree was standing, I still wouldn’t buy that it was a deer.

My assumptions: These are current photos, with currently increasing damage. Even in upstate NY, the bucks are still building antlers, and would still be in velvet, and NOT wanting to rub it off. That won’t come for a few more weeks at least.

The topmost damage appears to be about 5-6 feet off the ground, in it’s bent over state. If the tree was standing, it looks like it’d be at the 10+foot mark. If you can find me a buck that can stand up, with his head at the 6+ foot level, hook his head in some contortionist manner, and scrape off huge lengths of bark, while leaving a rough surface, that isn’t polished by the scraping, at a height of 6 or so feet, make sure you GPS the location and send it to me ASAP. This monster needs to be on my wall. All this scraping at elevation, with contortionism is happening when there is a much better tree right in the background.

Like men, bucks are lazy. You don’t climb up on top of the sink to comb your hair, you do it at ground level.

A bear on the other hand, or a large cat (not sure what large cats might be in your area, but I hear there are mountain lions in way north NH… unverified) would love to stand on a slanted surface, and dig their claws in for a good scratch/sharpening. Any bear hair on the ground? (Coarse and black) Any hair at all? I’d imagine that a bear would also be scratching his back somewhere near by.

The elevation of the tree at the top end of the scratching is… 6-8 feet off the ground- which is on a gentle downhill grade from the point where the root structure was pulled away.

It was clean when it fell over, I know that for certain. I look at that tree every day from my home office window and went out to look at it when I saw the first signs of the scratching/shredding. They grew, I shot the photos and posted here.

Yeah. That’d be one freaking huge deer. :eek:

There have not been reports of a mountain lion near me. About…hmm…40 miles away there was a sighting by a woman I know well. Clear, easy to see, the cat was quite close to her car. No doubt to her it was a mountain lion.

No fur around on ground or stuck to tree, no spoor. I looked.