Manicure Please

I came across this young grizzly bear in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary here on the BC coast whilst he was taking a breather while crossing a small channel in between two grassy knolls. He looks to me as if he’s just checking his claws out, perhaps wondering if any of us would like to go over and give him a manicure maybe! Seriously though, this is a good example of how long a grizzly bear’s claws can get (around 10 – 12cm for an adult bear). This bear is only 5 or 6 years old, so he still has a lot of growing still to do, but just look at those claws already. They do of course wear down, but not too much and occasionally they may break one, but not very often. Whilst the claws are a very useful weapon when needed, that is not the primary reason for the bears having them. They are in fact tools for food, or another way of looking at it, their knives and forks. They use them to dig up and turn over rocks, to scoop salmon out of a river, they use them to prize open a shellfish or to tear up a rotten log and of course they do use them to cut open a fish or animal carcass to make them easier to eat. (See also – Dextrous.)

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