Bear Hunting

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Bear Hunting Permit

To hunt bears a valid hunting license and a bear permit is required. Exception: Resident hunters do not need a bear permit to hunt bear during the firearms season for deer.

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.)

*Plus agent fee

In addition to a valid hunting license and bear hunting permit, 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 a bear, a bear trapping permit and a big game hunting license or a bear trapping permit and trapping license is required. See Trapping Laws for more information.

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 bears 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 bears.

Bait may not be placed to entice, hunt or trap a 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

Bears 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 a 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 bears
  • release a dog or dogs to hunt bears
  • train dogs on bears

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

A person may not hunt a bear after having killed one by hunting and may not trap a 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 bears during the open firearm season on deer
  • use more than 6 dogs at any one time to hunt bears
  • 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 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 bears with dogs. If the nonresident is a licensed Maine guide, they may hunt bears with dogs themselves, and may guide residents, but cannot guide non-residents.

For more info on buying, selling or bartering animals, see General Hunting Laws. For info on tracking a wounded bear, deer or moose with a Leashed Dog Tracking License, see Hunting with Dogs.

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2023 Bear Hunting Seasons and Bag Limits

Season Dates Annual Bag & Possession Limit
Youth Bear Hunting Day August 26, 2023 2 may be taken annually -
1 by hunting, 1 by trapping
General Hunting Season August 28, 2023 - November 25, 2023
Hunting with Bait
Bait can be placed July 29, 2023
August 28, 2023 - September 23, 2023
Trapping September 1, 2023 - October 31, 2023
Hunting with Dogs September 11, 2023 - October 27, 2023

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

More information on Bear Trapping.

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