Yes, they're real squirrel paws. Most people are fascinated by the pieces with animal parts. A few are grossed out, but you'd be surprised by how many people know someone else who collects animal bones. David gets many questions about this part. Every once in a while, the question is, "Why?".
In his words, he is taking something that has been discarded, by people or by nature, and giving it a new life. It is forever commemorated in art. The whole process is done in the most respectful way and no animal has ever been harmed or killed for his art. Each animal is picked up as roadkill or given to him by someone who picked it up. They have to "look like they just fell asleep".
Some wonder about the legality. We live in Tennessee and our roadkill laws would even allow us to eat what we pick up (this does not happen, I promise you). Birds are protected federally and are never used.
We live on an acre of land backed up to a river and the land is overgrown behind our house. So there's a perfect place for decomposition to take place. Down in the woods, there are some wire frames that keep other predators away. Anthills are often used to speed up the process. I play no role in this process, but I find it fascinating and appreciate the respect that David shows for all creatures, living and dead. We live in a house of rescue animals so there's plenty of respect around here :)
Lots of times, the bones are gifts or trades. Just recently, a friend showed up at a festival with some goodies. I want to repeat again- animals are never killed for these pieces. David would never encourage anyone to kill anything, even an insect, just for bones or parts. We were once on a Cub Scout trip and one of the boys said, "Mr. Pound- I killed this bug for you!" David quickly made it clear that that is not how we treat living things.
Once you get past the squeamish factor and know that this is something that has died and is returning to nature, it can truly be fascinating and a tribute to nature.
Thanks for reading!