Saturday evening just before dark , my oldest daughter walked through the woods to our house , as she got near the branch/stream that runs through our property she saw animal tracks that looked like a small child's footprint. I went down to the branch/stream to take a look and sure enough the tracks looked like small footprints of a child. I came back to the house and decided to google the tracks , to see what would leave tracks like that. What I found , kind of shocked me , it said bear tracks look like a human footprint in the snow , because their claws don't show in deeper snow. We haven't had bears in our area for many decades , although I have heard about a few sightings over the last few years and they were in a 5 mile radius. But as I reading the info , I remembered finding some hair last Spring as I was hiking , I picked it up and looked at it and was planning to bring it home with me. I sat down on a log and I remember looking at the hair , it was black and course , but for some reason I thought it might be horse hair that some wild animal had brought up. I laid it down next to the log , Shadow grabbed it but I got it back from him , I laid it back down next to the log , but then I forgot to pick it up when I started back home. I also remember seeing several trees that were stripped of their bark ( actually brought some of the stripped bark home with me ), but I didn't think much about it , just thought the birds or other animals were using it for nesting , but these are signs of bear being in the area too , although I didn't realize that at the time.
So early Sunday morning , Shadow and I went bear tracking , actually I wasn't tracking the bear , I went to measure the tracks and stride , to compare them to the tracks I found on the computer. The info said a black bear paw print is about 3 1/2 inches wide and 7 inches long , the measurements I took of the prints matched those. I thought the stride was the distance between the footprints , that measured about 15 inches , but the info from the computer said their stride is between 36 and 42 inches , after more searching I found information about measuring the stride , you measure from front toe to front toe of the second print , bear land on their toes first as they walk.
Shadow has been confined to the dog lot for awhile , he killed one of the guinea a few months ago. So I only let him out when I have time to keep a close eye on him , as soon as I let him out of the lot Sunday he headed down the path to the branch and picked up the scent trail of those tracks , he was running back and forth , sniffing the tracks. He ran further on and I followed just to our property line looking for other signs that we might have bear in the area. I did find a tree that look like it had a bite mark , but I'm not sure if it was made by a bear. I also read that bears might not hibernate in N.C. , due to our warmer climate zone. Monday I went back to the woods to measure the stride again , since I didn't measure it correctly on Sunday. The stride measured right at 36 inches , while I was in the woods I followed several of the tracks I found , they're all over the woods and one trail went to the edge of the woods were my daughter lives. We have 19 acres , about half is wooded , most of the wooded area lies between our home and my daughter's home , with a small branch/stream that runs through it to a nearby creek that's right beyond my daughter's home. That's the major reason I'm concerned that we might have bear in this area , we have a path through the woods that goes to her house , that's the path they took after sledding Sunday. We use that path often , never thought we needed to beware of bears , but I guess we do. Educating myself and family has made me feel a little better about the situation , I found information that told us what we need to do if we encounter the bear. We thought you should play dead as they do in the movies (LOL) , but I found out that you do that if it's a grizzly bear. If you encounter a black bear , never look a bear straight in the eyes or run from it. Clap your hands , yell at it or make as much noise as you can and slowly back away , most of the time they will run away. But if you're attacked by a black bear , you should fight with everything you can , sticks , rocks and your fist. If you hurt the bear , there's a chance it'll run away. This is scary , but I feel better knowing what I need to do just in case. Although I think I'll be a pistol packing Nana when I go hiking from now on (LOL) , just in case. Hopefully we'll never see it and it will stay far away or roam at night , most wild animals keep their distance and don't want human encounters. They're just as frightened of us , as we are of them.
~ Many Blessings ~