Over the Christmas break I drove up to South Carolina to enjoy the holidays with my family. We ate fresh collard greens, butter beans, and plenty of ham. I was really excited to receive Kaufman's Field Guide to Butterflies of North America and some new camping gear. But the most unexpected present was a bear claw.
The American Black Bear, Ursus americanus, is the only bear found on the east coast. In South Carolina the population is somewhere in the 900 range. This bear claw was given to my grandfather, who in turn gave it to me. The bear it came from was estimated to weigh over 300 pounds and was found in the county my family now lives in.
Many people have a fear of bears though they rarely attack. The Black Bear's omnivorous diet consists of 80% plant material and 20% mixture of insects and meat. Unlike their grizzly cousins, Black Bears can climb and if they should attack should be treated aggressively. Their large claws are used for digging and scraping. South Carolina's Department of Natural Resources website has more information on Black Bears found in my home state.