Bear Hunting

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Bear Hunting Permit

To hunt for bear prior to the firearms season on deer, a valid hunting license and a bear permit is required. The fee for this permit is:

  • Residents $10.00*
  • Non-Residents $74.00* (this permit covers the entire bear hunting season)
  • Non-Resident Late Season Permit $40*
    (If a non-resident wishes to hunt bear during the regular firearms season on deer only, a late-season bear hunting permit and a valid hunting license is required.)

To train or hunt bear with the use of a dog, a dog training and hunting permit is required. More information on Hunting with Dogs and Dog Training

To trap for bear, a trapping license and bear trapping permit is required. See Trapping Laws for more information.
*Plus agent fee

For information on required removal of bear tooth after harvest, see Mandatory Bear Tooth Submission.

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Landowner Privileges

Qualified landowners may hunt bear on their own land without a big game license, but are required to have a valid bear hunting permit. See special landowner privileges.

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Bait may be placed up to 30 days prior to opening day of the bear bait hunting season and no later than October 31. Bait areas must be cleaned up by November 10. Bait can be used to assist dog hunters and trappers, but it is illegal to shoot a bear over bait after the close of the bait season.

Hunting with the use of bait is defined as hunting from an observation stand, blind, or other location that overlooks any bait or food, except standing crops and foods that have been left as a result of normal agricultural operations or natural occurrence.

Bear bait means any animal, plant, or derivative thereof, used to attract bear. This does not include packaging or container materials that fall within the definition of litter under Title 17, §2263.

A person may not place any medicinal, poisonous, or stupefying substance to entice any animal, including bear.

Bait may not be placed to entice, hunt or trap black bear unless:

  • The bait is placed at least 50 yards from any travel way that is accessible by a conventional 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive vehicle
  • The observation stand, blind, or bait area is plainly labeled with a 2 inch by 4 inch tag with the name and address of the baiter
  • The bait is placed more than 500 yards from any solid waste disposal site or campground
  • The bait is placed more than 500 yards from an occupied dwelling, unless written permission is granted by the owner or tenant
  • The person hunting from another person's stand or blind has the owner's permission.
  • The person placing bait on another person's land has the landowner's permission (oral or in writing).
  • If placing bait on a wildlife management area, you need to secure a permit from MDIFW. To apply for a bear baiting permit, contact the wildlife biologist in your administrative region.
  • If placing bait on Public Reserved Land, you need to secure a permit from the Bureau of Parks and Lands (for info, call 207-287-3821).

Baiting of animals is prohibited in State Parks and Historic Sites.

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Legal Hunting Equipment

Bear may be taken by use of rifle, handguns, muzzleloader, shotguns (with slugs only and not larger than 10 gauge), bow and arrow (with a minimum draw weight of 35 lbs.) or crossbow (with a minimum draw weight of 100 lbs.). The use of a firearms
with .17 or .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, or a shotgun with shotloads to hunt bear is prohibited.

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Bear Hunting Prohibitions

A person cannot, within 50 yards of a baitsite and without written permission fromthe person who maintains the bait site:

  • hunt, trap, molest, or harass bear
  • release a dog or dogs to hunt bear
  • train dogs on bear

It is unlawful to hunt bear, or release dogs to hunt bear, within 500 yards of a solid waste disposal site

A person may not hunt bear after having killed one by hunting and may not trap bear after having killed one by trapping, during the open season of that calendar year. A person can kill and register two bears, one by hunting and one by trapping.

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Hunting with Dogs

It is unlawful to:

  • use dogs to hunt bear during the open firearm season on deer
  • use more than 6 dogs at any one time to hunt for bear
  • kill or wound a bear that is treed or held at bay by another person’s dog or dogs unless you have permission from the person conducting the hunt

View NEW Dog Training and Hunting permit requirements and Civil Trespass with Hunting Dog law.

The total number of nonresident clients hunting bears with dogs with a licensed resident Maine guide may not exceed five.

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Bear Hunting with a Maine Guide

Non-residents must employ, and hunt in the presence of, a resident Maine guide in order to hunt bear with dogs. If the nonresident is a licensed Maine guide, they may hunt bear with dogs themselves, and may guide residents, but cannot guide non-residents.

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Releasing Dogs from Traps

A dog’s reaction to being caught in a foothold trap can vary from calm to frightened, but upon being released, they do not normally sustain injury. Foothold traps are designed to hold an animal by the foot. The most common type of foothold trap used in Maine is shown here. If your dog gets caught in one of them, follow these steps:

Courtesy of Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies

Stay Calm and Get Help: If available, get a second person to assist you.

Protect Yourself: Some dogs may attempt to bite, especially as the trap is removed from their foot. Protect yourself by securing the dog’s muzzle using a jacket or vest, or by placing a barrier between you and the dog.

Open the Trap: If possible, put the trap flat on the ground. To open the trap, push down using your hands or feet on the levers located at either end of the jaws (see arrows in the diagram). This will release tension on the jaws and allow you to remove the dog’s foot.

Respect the Trapper, and Obey the Law: It is unlawful to take or destroy a trap without permission from the owner.

Prevent Future Incidents: Trappers commonly use lures and urine to attract furbearers such as foxes and coyotes. You can train your dog to avoid trap locations by utilizing these scents in mock trap sets.

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2022 Bear Hunting Seasons and Bag Limits

Season Dates Annual Bag & Possession Limit
Youth Bear Hunting Day August 27, 2022 2 may be taken annually -
1 by hunting, 1 by trapping
General Hunting Season August 29, 2022 - November 26, 2022
Hunting with Bait
Bait can be placed July 30, 2022
August 29, 2022 - September 24, 2022
Trapping September 1, 2022 - October 31, 2022
Hunting with Dogs September 12, 2022 - October 28, 2022

All dates are inclusive except that hunting is prohibited on Sunday.

See Laws Pertaining to Hunting Equipment for information on the use of crossbows. More information on Bear Trapping.

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