Signs in the field
Brown bear tracks are unmistakable. The bear is a plantigrade and leaves five easily recognisable toe pads with clearly visible claws in its tracks. As with humans, right and left paws can be clearly distinguished. The front paw leaves a short, wide print. The hind paw, in which the whole sole of foot is often seen, is longer than it is wide and can measure up to 22 cm for adult bears. The size of the footprint depends on the age of the animal. In very young animals it can be as small as a badger track.
In the typical walking gait the hind foot is a little forward of the front. When they move fast, bears use a transverse gallop.
Bear scats are highly variable depending on the food type. Bears are omnivorous but have a predominantly herbivorous diet. Thus, there are fruit seeds and stones, grass and root fragments visible. With a vegetarian diet the scats are also often partly soft and not well formed.
If the bear has eaten meat, its scats have a more defined shape and also contain hairs and bone fragments.
Brown bears kill their prey in a characteristic way with one or several apparently undirected blows using its front paw to the prey’s nose, throat and back region. Larger animals such as red deer are also killed through bites to the back and neck. Single body parts are distributed over large areas. The skin and bones are not consumed and the skin is typically discarded. When disturbed, bears can move even a large kill over several 100 m.
Massive injuries are visible. Bear paws can leave heavily bruised muscles and result in intensive bleedings. Claw marks are clearly visible and the skull and back bones are often broken. The nose-mouth region is bloody.
Bears first open the belly and thoracic cavity to access the intestines and udder. Later also the muscles. A bear can consume more than 10 kg per day and finish its prey in a single sitting if it is undisturbed.
Brown bears are more silent animals. They have a rough and deep roar and give out a blowing grunt when uncertain or scared. The most frequent vocal expression is the dull rumble.