Holyoke man finds bear paw in his yard

FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRIS EVANS

FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRIS EVANS

Armand Laramee found this bear paw Tuesday in his Holyoke yard.

Armand Laramee found this bear paw Tuesday in his Holyoke yard. FOR THE GAZETTE/CHRIS EVANS

By JAMES PENTLAND

Staff Writer

Published: 04-17-2024 12:40 PM

Modified: 04-17-2024 2:22 PM


HOLYOKE — Armand Laramee was heading out on his morning walk around 6 a.m. Tuesday when something lying in his yard caught his eye.

His first thought was perhaps his neighbor’s black cat had been hit by a car. He went to check on it.

“Then I saw that big paw with a bone on it,” he said.

It appeared to be the paw of a black bear, a broken bone protruding from the fur. When he picked it up, Laramee estimated it weighed at least 10 pounds.

He said he called the police, but they told him they wouldn’t respond.

Laramee, 97, has lived in his home on Dartmouth Street for 40 years, and said he’s seen his share of wildlife passing through over the years.

“I’ve seen bear here,” he said. “I’ve got a picture of one in my yard.”

David Wattles, Mass Wildlife’s black bear biologist, said he got a call Tuesday from another Holyoke resident who had found a bear limb in his yard before he went to work. He told Wattles it was gone when he got home, but he had taken a photo, which he sent along.

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The description sounded similar to the bear paw on Laramee’s lawn.

“It doesn’t appear to be anything suspicious,” Wattles said. “More than likely the bear was hit and killed in a vehicle collision,” probably last fall, gauging by the age of the bone break.

“I presume (the paw) was moved by another bear, or a dog or coyote. Unfortunately, vehicle collisions with bears are pretty common.”

Mass Wildlife had a collared bear hit by a vehicle in Holyoke not long ago, Wattles said. Its tracking collar showed it roaming far and wide, crossing all kinds of major highways along the way.

Laramee said he didn’t think the bear paw was dragged to his lawn by a coyote because there was no fur lying around, and the furry lower limb wouldn’t make much of a meal, anyway.

“I got a feeling somebody threw it there,” he said.

For now, he put it in with his yard waste to keep the curious at bay.

The strange appearance leaves plenty of lingering questions for Laramee.

“Where’s the rest of it?” he said.