I've sent black bear to tanneries with the claws wired and have never had any problems. I had a customer today tell me that his former taxidermist removed the claws before sending them to the tannery because of excessive wear and damage to the claws from tumbling. This doesn't sound very likely, however I told him I would research before I moved forward. Has anybody experienced this before?
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It also depends on your tannery and how they treat their hides. If you have never had a problem with your tannery why change or worry. I send all my bear hides ot to East Coast Tannery and never had a problem. Besides that I nevered wired a claw yet and never lost one yet.
Yes - claw damage can occur - and it usually happens during the "finishing" of your skins when they are tumbled and then later caged to remove the sawdust. Although it can occur in the tumbling drum in the sawdust - normally it's when they are caged that this is a problem! The claws tend to hook onto the mesh. Sometimes they simply lose their outer cover - but they can also split! Either way - you will have an unhappy customer, and find yourself laboriously sifting your sawdust for claw pieces.
To circumvent such problems - Tanneries will usually "boot" the feet before they drum them. In a pinch - socks can be placed over each of the feet and tied on - but some Tanners prefer having actual booties made using leather with a drawstring for a quick on and off application. As long as it effectively prevents the claws from hooking on the baffles or the mesh used in caging - it will prevent such damage.