Foul play a foot? Likely bear paw sighting an unnerving finding

Photo courtesy of Kelly Keating-Griebel. Realtor Kelly Keating-Griebel saw this appendage on the side of the road in Sterling on Sept. 17.

Photo courtesy of Kelly Keating-Griebel. Realtor Kelly Keating-Griebel saw this appendage on the side of the road in Sterling on Sept. 17.

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

Being a Realtor inevitably means seeing some interesting things. It’s not being nosy, just that the job entails being in and out of people’s homes, up and down all manner of back roads and touring through all sorts of neighborhoods.

Kelly Keating-Griebel, with Century 21 in Soldotna, has certainly had moments calling for raised eyebrows in her 10-plus years as a Realtor — though, of course, professionalism requires restraint from doing so. But Sept. 17 was a first — a sight more hair-raising than just her brows.

Driving back Wednesday evening from viewing a new listing on June Drive in Sterling, near Mile 81 of the Sterling Highway, something caught her eye on the side of the gravel road. Even from inside her car she could tell it was organic, though it was no longer attached to whatever body it had once belonged. It was long and narrow, fleshy, though decomposing, with a bony joint sticking up out of dark, rotting meat. It was about a foot long, which made sense, since, with five toes, it was clearly a foot. But from what?

“I honestly, honestly, though it was a foot — a human foot. That’s what it looked like,” Keating-Griebel said.

There was another similarly shaped appendage nearby on the road, in worse shape and less recognizable, but still foot looking. There was no body, or other parts, to be seen. From the sanitary safety of her car she took some pictures with her cellphone camera. About a half hour later she posted one to Facebook, looking for some crowd-sourced reassurance.

“Please tell me this is not a human foot I just stumbled across while listing a cabin for sale,” she posted.

Several people, including hunters and the wife of a local taxidermist, responded that it must be a bear paw. Skinned bear carcasses look surprisingly human, they said, especially rear paws, which have five toes.

Others, though, were not so reassuring. A friend of Keating-Griebel’s who works in a podiatrist’s office contacted her to say that the foot looked human, that bear paws should look wider than the appendage in her photo. Another friend, the wife of an Alaska State Trooper, recommended that Keating-Griebel report the find to authorities.

“She said that, even if it’s not human, I should call it in if someone is illegally poaching bears,” Keating-Griebel said.

She already had, calling the trooper office in Soldotna and sending in her pictures. The officer to whom she spoke said they would check it out, Keating-Griebel said.

The friend who works in the podiatrist office also wanted to investigate further.

“She actually went out there to look for it the next day and could not find it. Both of them were gone,” Keating-Griebel said.

She didn’t hear back from troopers, and takes that as further confirmation that the feet were actually paws.

“I’m guessing it wasn’t human or we probably would have heard something by now,” she said.

“But, gross — random body parts,” she said. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Honestly, nothing like this has ever popped up before. It was eerie.”


1 Comment

Filed under bears, public safety

One response to “Foul play a foot? Likely bear paw sighting an unnerving finding

  1. Pete Snow

    “Being a Realtor…” Could you please explain why the word realtor is capitalized? Seems to me the word should either be all caps with a registered trademark R in a circle: REALTOR(R) or lower case: realtor. Signed, a Teacher.

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