MYSTERY: What kind of animal was this from?

Every so often, an animal mystery lands in the WSB inbox. (Like the Beach Drive cow 10 years ago.) Tonight, a new one – what looks like part of a wild animal turned up in Barrett‘s yard. He’s looking for help in figuring out what it is:

I found in my side yard a large piece of what appears to be skin from a bear’s head. It is fresh and covered in thick black hair with a distinctly large and round furry ear. Am in North Admiral. Where could this have come from?? Presumedly left by a raccoon. Seriously, it really looks like it’s from a bear. Could there be any readers out there who recently hunted and skinned a bear at home and mismanaged the bits? Maybe a reader could identify it as lost pet remains?

The photo isn’t particularly gross but nonetheless, we’re not showing it unless you want to see it by clicking hereor here. Any ideas, please comment, or email us.

28 Replies to "MYSTERY: What kind of animal was this from?"

  • martin February 20, 2021 (6:49 pm)


  • WSB February 20, 2021 (6:54 pm)

    First email received declares “Bear hide.” The question then would be, where’s the rest of the bear? (We did have that possible “cub” sighting report a few months ago …)

  • Smith February 20, 2021 (6:55 pm)

    Baby Bigfoot 

  • berry bear February 20, 2021 (7:01 pm)

    Sad, it does look like a bear cub. Maybe a cub was orphaned and died on it’s own, and was ravaged by coyotes and raccoons?.

  • Phil February 20, 2021 (7:21 pm)

    Looks like a beaver to me

    • Buddy February 21, 2021 (11:12 am)

      Beaver 🦫 my mom used to wear fur hats in the 60 and 70 sort of reminds me of her hats which were so embarrassing!

  • uncle loco February 20, 2021 (7:28 pm)

    Chupacabra…hind quarters.

  • Kate February 20, 2021 (7:32 pm)

    I was recently hiking through Lincoln Park, on an upper forested trail,  and almost stepped on a large salmon! For a minute I couldn’t figure out how it had gotten there until I saw talon claw marks on the body and realized it was probably dropped from an eagle. I also regularly see crab bits in my backyard probably dropped from crows. Sooo…..I’m not saying, but just saying.

  • 1994 February 20, 2021 (7:32 pm)

    Bear hunting season for fall ended  Nov 15.  Possibly a river otter?

  • AB83 February 20, 2021 (8:17 pm)

    Maybe it’s part of a hairy troll from under the West Seattle Bridge 

  • Karen February 20, 2021 (10:09 pm)


  • Frizzle February 20, 2021 (10:34 pm)

    Hunters will leave the hide where they harvest the animal, unless the want to keep it and they’ll bring it back to a taxidermist.  The taxidermist keeps it preserved until ready to do their thing.  Harvested animals have to have immediate heat dissipation at or very near harvest site (removing of hide, internals, etc) in order to preserve the meat.  Ears are hard to do, so wouldn’t be surprising if a local diy taxidermist gave up and threw this part in the trash and trash got raided.  It does look small to be from a harvestable bear though.  Is this piece clean cut around the edges?  Are there knife nick marks on the underside from skinning?  Or are the edges torn and ragged like from another animal?  Would help narrow it down.  But my guess is it’s from a dog.

    • datamuse February 21, 2021 (1:59 pm)

      I don’t hunt, but I do wildlife tracking including studying kill sites when I find them, and I have similar questions especially around the condition of the skin and signs for how it was processed or removed.

  • Steve February 20, 2021 (11:37 pm)

    100% bear. I saw one checking for forest fires in that area less than a week ago.

    • Joe February 21, 2021 (1:06 pm)

      Steve – I’m not sure I understand your comment. You saw a bear in North Admiral a week ago? And you saw this while you were checking for forest fires? Umm, ok… Did you report it to anyone?

      • momosmom February 21, 2021 (2:51 pm)

      • Scott Collins February 21, 2021 (2:59 pm)

        Joe, I believe it was the bear that was checking for forest fires…not Steve.  The bear might have been named Smokey.   Just guessing.

        • Jethro Marx February 21, 2021 (4:28 pm)

          Oh mg they killed smokey?

  • waikikigirl February 21, 2021 (7:09 am)

    Dept. of Wildlife could ID it and I also think the Zoo and PAWS could too.

  • Meeeee February 21, 2021 (9:05 am)

    Maybe send the photo to WDFW, guessing they have experts who could tell you what kind of animal it is.

  • wsperson February 21, 2021 (12:12 pm)

    I vote for identifying it through one of the suggestions above because if it is someone’s dog then how did it get like that? And let us know when you find out!

  • Mo February 21, 2021 (2:26 pm)

    A feral hog?

  • Barrett February 21, 2021 (3:14 pm)

    Thanks everyone for your ideas! (Also the sarcastic suggestions are fantastic)I’m the one who found this thing with my wife in our yard and submitted the photos. Going to address a couple ideas/comments here: Beaver/river otter: the size of the ears and density of the fur inside the ear makes me think these are unlikely sources. Comparing the pictures I took to beaver ears…yeah I see what you mean, but first hand its a bit more of a stretch. I wouldn’t rule out beaver though. Dog: that would have to be one huge dog and with thicker fur than Ive ever seen! Poking it with a stick (as scientifically as I can) I noticed that the fur is very stiff and the strands don’t part easily. Also the skin is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick. Taxidermist theory: I inspected the underside more closely for tool marks and it appears that flesh has been torn messily from the skin leaving streaks of red meat. Doesn’t look like it was done with a tool. The edges cut fairly cleanly but not inconsistent with tearing either. WDFW: Reached out and will update with results

    • Jethro Marx February 21, 2021 (4:34 pm)

      I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you it is 100% leftovers from an Orca eating a swimming bear.

    • 1994 February 21, 2021 (8:54 pm)

      Yes – do keep us updated on the results! Thanks for sharing your garden discovery – whatever it is :) 

  • Mj February 21, 2021 (5:50 pm)

    A large Ground Hog dissatisfied with the extension of winter weather

  • Barrett February 25, 2021 (7:04 pm)

    The woodland park zoo confirmed that it is in fact partial remains of a black bear. They offered 2 possible explanations. The first is that it was hunted and brought to west seattle to be processed. These remains could be waste scavenged from the hunter’s property. Since it is way outside bear hunting season for washington, this has been reported to WDFW. The second explanation the zoo put forth is that the bear traveled here from the east side and deceased from any number of urban hazards. Another great  idea I’ve heard from a few people now is that the remains were dropped by a large bird of prey. This is a pretty good catch-all theory…and as a bonus it preserve’s some faith in humanity 😂

  • Oractor March 9, 2021 (12:13 pm)

    Apparently this is a beaver, just a bearskin is much larger. I’m more afraid of the fact that you found these remains near your house.

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