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Idaho Fish and Game

Front Claws - Bear Identification Program

Grizzly bears have front claws that are much longer than a black bear’s. Grizzly claws are at least 2” long and can be more than 4” long. Grizzly bears use their claws for digging roots and ground squirrels, and for excavating dens.
Black bears have front claws that are much shorter, generally less than 2" in length. The claws are sharper and more curved than a grizzly bear. Black bears use their claws to tear into rotten logs and stumps in search of insects and to climb trees as an escape mechanism.
The front claws can be a good way to tell a grizzly bear from a black bear. They can also be used in telling black bear tracks from grizzly bear tracks.