Mandatory Bear Tooth Submission

Attention bear hunters and trappers, you are required to submit a tooth from your bear when you register it.

We have provided hunter check stations with the information for submitting a bear tooth. The store clerk or agent will provide you with a tooth envelope and it is the bear hunter's responsibility to:

Upper jaw of Black Bear
  1. Fill out the information on the tooth envelope
  2. Remove the first upper premolar located behind the canine tooth on the upper jaw.
  3. Insert the knife or a screwdriver under the front edge of the tooth, and
  4. Pry the premolar out of the socket using the large canine tooth for leverage.
  5. We need the root to estimate the age of your bear. If you broke the root, try to remove the other upper premolar or one of the lower premolars.
  6. Place the tooth in the envelope & seal the envelope.
  7. Give the tooth envelope to the agent/store clerk.
    • The agent/store will mail the tooth to MDIFW.
    • We will post the age of your bear on this website the next summer after we receive the report from the lab.

Thank you for your help!

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Why is the Department Collecting Teeth from Black Bears?

We are collecting teeth from black bears to help us track the number of bears in Maine and adjust bear hunting regulations when necessary to meet management objectives. Our current management goal is to stabilize the population at 1999 levels (23,000 bears). By knowing the age of the bears harvested, we can estimate how many bears were present in previous years. For example, a 10-year old bear harvested in 2010 was alive for the preceding 9 years and can be added to the population estimate for each year. By repeating this process for each bear harvested, over time we can reconstruct the harvested population. Although this method provides a minimum estimate of the number of bears since bears not harvested arent included in the estimate, it is useful at monitoring whether the population is increasing, decreasing, or stable.

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Tooth submission reports

If you harvested a bear during the fall season (e.g. 2016), tooth ages will be posted here the following summer (e.g., August 2017), after we receive the age report from the lab that processes the teeth. We apologize that the age of the bear you harvested is not available sooner; we are working with the lab to ensure more timely reports.

MDIFW has been working with hunters and hunter check stations to collect teeth from harvested black bears since 2008. We greatly appreciate the help of bear hunters, check stations, and guides that assisted with providing teeth from harvested black bears. These teeth will help us learn more about Maine's bear population to ensure our bear regulations are based on the best available science. 

Summary of bear age reports (2008-2015)

Like most hunted black bear populations, older bears made up a smaller proportion of the harvest with approximately ¼ of the bears harvested in Maine being more than 4 years of age. Bears are long-lived and every year a portion of the harvest includes bears that reach 20 to 29 years old. The oldest bears harvested in Maine were females between 25 and 32 years of age. The oldest males were between 20 and 31 years old.

Tooth report Oldest Female Bear Oldest Male Bear Average age (yrs)
2008 28 years-old 20 years-old 4
2009 25 years-old 20 years-old 4
2010 29 years-old 25 years-old 3.75
2011 29 years-old 23 years-old 4
2012 29 years-old 21 years-old 3.5
2013 26 years-old 25 years-old 4
2014 25 years-old 31 years-old 3.5
2015 25 years-old 29 years-old 4

Summary of the 2017 Bear Hunting Season Initial Age Report 

During the 2017 bear season, we initially received bear teeth from 2,502 of 2,897 successful hunters (86%).  If you would like to know the age of the bear you harvested in 2017, see 2017 Bear Age Report (PDF).  As in the past, some bear teeth are received later and sent to the lab for aging at a later date.  The age report for these teeth will be posted to the website later this year after we receive the follow-up report from the lab.

Of the initial 2,502 teeth, the lab was not able to determine the age for 61 bears (identified as damaged tooth in the age column). Like most hunted black bear populations, older bears made up a smaller proportion of the harvest.  The average age of a harvested black bear was 3.63 and the majority of bears (71%) were between 1 and 4 years old. The oldest bear was a 28 year-old female and the oldest male was 22 years old. 

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