Well, there's something you don't see every day.

A mystery hand was discovered in New York State, raising a number of questions. What happened? Where did it come from? Who does it belong to? Where is the other one?

The Niagara County Sheriff's Department called the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for help answering some of those questions after finding what was suspected to be a human hand.

Credit - NYS DEC
Credit - NYS DEC

Not Who, But What

The question shouldn't have been WHO the hand belonged to, but what. DEC Regional Wildlife Biologist Connie Adams determined the mystery hand was actually a paw from a black bear, not a hand from a human.

There are 6,000 to 8,000 bears in New York State. If you happen to come across a live one, with both its hands/paws, there are some things you can do to avoid losing your hands.


  • Use noise to scare bears away: Yell, clap, or bang pots immediately upon sighting a bear.
  • Stay calm: Walk slowly and speak in a loud and calm voice.
  • Leave slowly: Cautiously back away from the bear and leave the area.


  • Approach, surround, or corner a bear: Bears aggressively defend themselves when they feel threatened. Be especially cautious around cubs as mother bears are very protective.
  • Run from a bear: They may chase.
  • Throw your backpack or food bag at an approaching bear: This will only encourage bears to approach and "bully" people to get food. By teaching a bear to approach humans for food, you are endangering yourself, other campers/residents, and the bears.
  • If a bear approaches you: Raise your arms and speak in a loud, calm voice while backing away.
  • If a bear charges you: Stand your ground.
  • If a bear makes contact with you: Fight back with anything at hand (knife, stick, rocks, or fists).

Just one more reason to avoid hiking in the woods. An evening on the couch, with a glass of wine and a good movie, sounds a lot better than a hike any day. But, maybe that's just me.

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