Bear Trapping

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Bear Trapping Permit

A bear trapping permit and a trapping license are required to set a trap for a bear during the annual bear trapping season (September 1 - October 31). You are allowed to take one bear by trapping and one bear by hunting annually (see Bear Hunting). The fee for a bear trapping permit is $27 for residents and $67 for nonresidents and aliens.

If you trap for black bear you are required to follow the same general trapping rules that apply to the labeling of traps, the tending of traps and the need to obtain landowner permission. If you trap a bear, you are required to follow the same transportation and registration rules as those for bear which have been taken by hunting (see Tagging, Transportation & Registration).

You are also required to follow other rules specific to bear trapping, as follows:

  • You are not allowed to have more than one trap set for bear at any time.
  • The only legal bear traps are cable traps (foot snare) and cage-type live traps.
  • The Belisle foot snare is prohibited.
  • When using a cable trap, the trap must have a closing diameter of not less than 2  inches.
  • Each cable trap must be set at or below ground level in such a manner as to catch the animal only by the foot or leg. All bear traps must be tended at least once a day.
  • You are not allowed to catch a bear in a trap and allow another person to kill or register the bear.
  • You cannot continue to trap for bear after you have already killed or registered one in a trap.
  • Bears caught in traps must be killed or released and not moved away from the catch site. A bear caught in a trap may not be used in conjunction with a hunt or to train a dog for bear hunting.
  • The same rules apply to hunting and trapping for bear with the use of bait. (See rules about the use of bear baits.)
  • You may not trap within 500 yards of a solid waste disposal site. These areas can be identified by a visible line of demarcation. Exception: an agent of the commissioner is exempt for the purpose of live trapping of nuisance bear.
  • All trapping licenses are issued from the MDIFW office in Augusta and cannot be purchased online.

Emergency Bear Trapping Rule

MDIFW has adopted an emergency rule that limits some methods used to trap bear which may accidentally capture the federally threatened Canada Lynx in Maine. This emergency rule is effective for the 2018 bear trapping season only.
The emergency rule still allows for bear trapping, subject to the provisions described below: 

  1. Cable traps (foot snares) that are set and/or designed to capture a bear when it reaches into the device to obtain bait and/or lure are prohibited.
  2. Whenever a cable trap (foot snare) is used to trap for bear:
    1. bait and/or lure may not be placed below ground level; and
    2. bait and/or lure may not be placed within the loop of the cable

These restrictions make the use of bucket-style bear traps and similar devices illegal for the 2018 bear trapping season.  Culvert-style traps and other common methods of bear trapping, including the use of trail sets and blind sets that are set in accordance with the emergency rule, are still legal.  The Department will develop a permanent rule proposal to be put in place before the 2019 bear trapping season that will address the issue long term. 
All other rules and laws governing bear trapping, including the limit of one bear trap per person and the minimum closing diameter for cable traps, remain in effect. 

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Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program

The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, commonly known as the Pittman- Robertson (PR) Act, established a "User Pay/User Benefit" philosophy for funding state wildlife resource restoration and conservation efforts. These funds have played a vital role in the Maine's wildlife management capabilities since they were first used in 1939. Revenues collected from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, pistols, revolvers, bows and arrows are deposited in the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Fund, and used to support wildlife population assessments, long-range species management planning, development of management recommendations, implementation of management programs, acquisition and management of wildlife habitat, and hunter education.

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