By RYAN DI LELLO
Santaquin residents reported finding human remains to police early Sunday, but medical examiners found they were actually bear remains.
Santaquin Police Chief Dennis Howard said private citizens turned in photographs of what appeared to be a human foot Sunday morning. The residents notified police about the foot after their dog brought it to the front porch of their home.
?There was no fur on the foot, just skin, which made it appear to be human,? Howard said. Police estimated the remains to be about sixty days old.
Police are not sure where the dog located the foot, Howard said, but 56 volunteers from the local police, fire and other emergency teams volunteered to continue the search for any other remains. Nothing else was found.
Police gave the remains to the state Medical Examiner?s Office where two medical doctors initially said the bones were human, but after examination discovered they were not. X-rays of the foot revealed that it belonged to a bear.
Hal Black, a professor of integrative biology at BYU, said bears have the same bones in the arms and legs as humans, making it easy to confuse them with human bones. He said the femur of a full-grown bear would probably be about the same size as the femur of a six-foot man.
?If you took a femur out of a black bear and a femur out of a man and handed it to someone on the street and asked him or her to guess which was which, they would probably guess wrong.? Black said.
Someone probably killed the bear during the spring bear-hunting season and then dumped the remains close to the edge of town, Howard said.
He said no one has reported any bear sightings close to town in the last few months.
The family home is located near the edge of the city, but you don?t expect to see any bears that close to town, Howard said.