Name That Scat

Asked April 9, 2017, 6:49 PM EDT

Hi OSU, Found scat in my front yard this afternoon that I can't identify. It doesn't look like dog to me, more like black bear but a little smaller than what I would expect for a bear. Incidentally, we found a watermelon smashed open on our front walk yesterday morning and a bush that had been seriously thrashed in another part of our front yard. I assumed the watermelon might be kids until i found the scat and the bush today. Now I'm not so sure. We live on Awbrey Butte which is an open community with a lot of natural space. We regularly see deer in the neighborhood and our yard and occasionally a raccoon. There have been reports of a cougar on the Butte but we have never seen one. I didn't find any tracks ( kids or otherwise) in dirt area in the front yard other than some older deer tracks. I am attaching a few pictures of the scat in the hope you might be able to identify the source. Thanks, Bob & Kathy

Deschutes County Oregon

3 Responses

Thank you for providing photos and a way to scale the size. I'm fairly confident (without having you break open the scat and see what's in there) that these are produced by your local deer, which are likely ingesting lots of the new, high-moisture growth that's become available. That the scats seem almost segmented, but with a lot of flow/amorphous shape among and between sections suggests that the usual "pellets" are just being overwhelmed by the amount of moisture in the excreta. Beating up on shrubs is usually something I hear about in the fall, but definitely within the scope of deer damage, as is the smashed melon. Interestingly, I have observed that some local populations are quite "practiced" you might say, at smashing melons and pumpkins, whereas individuals in other populations don't seem to have needed (?) or developed that behavior. If you have access to a game camera, it might be interesting to set it up and see who is visiting your yard overnight to help find out whether their might be additional species coming to visit.

Thanks Dana. A bear would have been more exciting though!

My pleasure! I'll look forward to your next Ask an Expert question!