The NSS Bulletin - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 42 Number 1: 3-7 - January 1980

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Prehistoric Bear Signs and Black Bear (Ursus americanus) Utilization of Hurricane River Cave, Arkansas
Norman W. Yongsteadt and Jean O. Youngsteadt


Interpretation of claw marks, tracks, trails, beds, and bones in Hurricane River Cave led to the realization that the cave was once a regular denning area for black bears, Ursus americanus. The existence of a long, continuous trail through a large part of the cave shows that these bears regularly traveled to the denning area 517 m from the entrance. Bones found in a narrow canyon below beds in this area seem to represent animals that died during their winter sleep, not animals lost deep in the cave. A trail leading up a steep clay floor, though a tight fissure, and down a low crawlway indicates that, in addition to great penetration, these bears were able to negotiate relatively difficult caving situations. Claw marks in inaccessible, remnant clay fills near the cave ceiling and others in passages essentially blocked by clay and water indicate that clay fills flucuated several meters in depth during the time bears used the cave.

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