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Bear Hunting and Trapping Seasons for 2014

 General Hunting (without use of bait or dogs) - August 25, 2014 through November 29, 2014
 Hunting with Bait - August 25, 2014 through September 20, 2014 (Bait can be placed beginning July
26, 2014)
 Hunting with Dogs - September 8, 2014 through October 31, 2014
 Trapping - September 1, 2014 through October 31, 2014
Black Bear Hunting Regulations
Black bears can be hunted in Maine using a variety of methods during a 16-week fall hunting season opening
on the last Monday in August and closing the last Saturday in November. During the first 4 weeks (primarily the
month of September), bears can be hunted over bait. Hunters can pursue bears with hounds for six weeks
(mid-September to end of October), and can still hunt or stalk bears the entire 16 week season. Hunters are
required to purchase a bear permit during the bait and hound season and non-resident deer hunters are
required to purchase a bear permit if they want to harvest a bear while hunting deer. Bear hunters can take two
bears each fall, if one is taken by hunting and the other by trapping.
Black Bear Trapping Regulations
You may trap a bear in Maine from September 1 to October 31. One cage style trap or foothold snare set at or
below ground level may be used to trap bears. A special trapping permit is required for residents ($27) or
nonresidents and aliens ($67).
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:

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.
o The agent/store will mail the tooth to MDIFW.
o 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!
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.
Tooth submission reports
If you harvested a bear during the fall season (e.g. 2013), tooth ages will be posted here the following
summer (e.g., August 2014), 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.
 2012 bear age report NEW!
 2011 bear age report
 2010 bear age report
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 Maines bear population to insure our
bear regulations are based on the best available science.
2012 Bear Age Summary
During the 2012 bear season, we initially received teeth from 2,143 hunters. For the teeth that arrived late, the
age of their bears will be posted to the website later this year. Of the initial 2,143 teeth, the lab was not able to
determine the age for 54 bears (identified with an X in the age column) and for 45 bears we were not able to
identify the hunter who shot the bear. If you would like to see the age of the bear you harvested in 2012, click
this link (2012 bear age report)
Like most hunted black bear populations, older bears made up a smaller proportion of the harvest. In 2012, the
average age of a harvested black bear was 3 and the majority of bears (79%) were between 1 and 5 years old.
The oldest bear was a 29 year-old female and the oldest male was 21 years old.
Summary of bear age reports (2008-12)
IFW has been working with hunters and hunter check stations to collect teeth from harvested black bears since
2008. Like most hunted black bear populations, older bears made up a smaller proportion of the harvest with
1/3 of the bears less 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 bear harvested in Maine were females between 25 and 29
years of age. The oldest males were between 20 and 25 years old.
 In 2008, the oldest bear was a 28 year-old female and the oldest male bear was 20 years old.
 In 2009, the oldest bear was a 25 year-old female and the oldest male bear was 20 years old.
 In 2010, the oldest bear was a 29 year-old female and the oldest male bear was 25 years old.
 In 2011, the oldest bear was a 29 year-old female and the oldest male bear was 23 years old.
 In 2012, the oldest bear was a 29 year-old female and the oldest male bear was 21 years old.
Black Bear Hunting Tips
 Always ask landowner permission before hunting, setting baits, or starting hounds.
 Practice with your weapon continuously to maintain proficiency. Bears must be hit solidly in the lungs
or heart, rather small targets compared to a bear's large body size.
 Tree stands are dangerous. Secure yourself with a safety strap. Do not climb with a firearm or bow in
your hand; instead, use a haul line after safely strapping yourself in.
Still-hunting/Stalking Tips
 Bear use dense forests in Maine making it more difficult to hunt bears by stalking. About 2% of hunters
are successful still-hunting/stalking black bears in Maine.
 Hunting near food sources that are "in season" will increase still-hunting and stalking success.
 Early in the fall, bears are found near clear cuts that produce berries or near agricultural crops such as
corn and oat fields or apple orchards.
 Late in the fall, hunt near sources of beechnuts or acorns.
 Pre-season scouting can also increase your success rate. Look for tracks, droppings, broken stems, or
branches near seasonal food supplies.
Tips for Hunting with Bait
 Scent control is a must for successful hunting, especially over bait. Wear rubber footwear, keep
hunting clothing clean, and avoid wearing it in camp where foreign odors can be picked up. Do not
smoke on the stand. Use cover scent or scent eliminating products.
 Check your bait sites frequently (every 3 to 5 days) to insure that bait is available to bears that visit the
 If possible, increase the frequency of bait checks after a bear has visited your site.
 Use a call lure (e.g., anise, liquid smoke) to attract bears to your site.
 Cover your bait (e.g. buckets with lids, large rock) to prevent small animals from stealing bait.
 Consider working with a registered Maine guide to learn how to be more successful when hunting
bears with bait.
 Success rates vary with availability of natural foods. On average, 30% of hunters that use bait or
hounds are successful harvesting a black bear in Maine each fall.
Tips for Hunting Bears with Hounds
 Hunting with hounds is physically demanding. An exercise program will put you and your dogs in
shape to complete a hunt safely.
 Before releasing hounds consider the location of roads and houses Always ask landowner permission
before starting hounds.
 To avoid conflicts with other hunters, be aware of the location of active bait sites and avoid releasing
dogs where hunters are in stands.
 Consider working with a registered Maine guide or skilled houndsman to learn the tricks of the trade.
Black Bear Trapping Tips
The Aldrich-style cable foot snare has been used for many years by recreational and research trappers to
safely restrain bears. There are many variations of this type of foot snare, and many ways to use it effectively.
The following may be helpful in ensuring a safe and successful bear snaring experience. In Maine, about 20%
of trappers are successful harvesting a black bear each fall.

Adult bears are powerful animals and this must be taken into consideration when trapping them. A cable that
has been kinked, twisted, frayed or otherwise weakened should be replaced. A solid tree of at least 6” in
diameter should be chosen to anchor the lead with 2 cable clamps, fastened tightly enough to prevent the bear
from sliding the cable up the trunk of the tree. Many bears that are caught in a snare will climb if given the
opportunity. To prevent bears from climbing, fasten the cable lead above the tree’s “butt swell” and remove all
limbs as high as you can reach with an axe.
The swivel is a critical component of the snare as it prevents the cable from twisting which can weaken it or
cause it to bind. To prevent the swivel from being disabled by vegetation, remove green saplings within reach
of the black bear (at least 4 feet beyond the end of the closed snare). Also avoid setting a snare where large
trees or limbs are inside the catch circle (arc of the closed snare). All these considerations should be double
checked before leaving the snare set including a final check of tightness on all cable clamps.
You are required by law to have a stop on your snare that allows a minimum loop size of 2 ½
inches. Closing the loop on a 2.5” diameter soup can is an easy way to position the cable stop. You may want
to increase the loop size a little more than 2.5" if you want to avoid catching a smaller bear.
For most snare systems, it is best to stake down the swivel by passing the metal stake on the spring or throw
arm through the eye of the swivel and then push the stake into the ground. For best result, pass the metal
stake on the trigger side through the eye of the swivel attached to the lead. You may also want to cut a small
forked stake to hold the back of the spring firmly in place.

Dig a hole that is deep enough for the trigger to trip properly. Stick pencil sized sticks into the sides of the hole
extending to the trigger to help support an overlayer of moss or leaves. Cover the hole with moss or a thick pad
of leaves to prevent needles or duff from filling the hole. Conceal your loop, with light material (needles, duff).

Finish your set by placing light, dead brush as blocking and stepping sticks placed close to each side of the
snare loop to help direct the bears foot over the trigger. You may use a cubby to direct the bear over your set,
but a trail set is often more effective, especially if the target bear has established a different trail than many
non-target animals visiting the site. It is very common for bears to step in the exact same spots as they
approach a bait, developing shallow depressions in the form of a trail. If you can dig your hole in one of these
depressions where it is near a substantial anchor tree, you may not have to use blocking. It can be helpful to
prep your trap site days before you actually set your snare so the bear can get used to these changes. If you
think you have missed the bear you are after, it may not step there again. So you may want to have a backup
site prepped and ready to move your snare to.
For a trail set, it is helpful to try and snare the inside foot (the foot closest to your anchor tree as the bear walks
by) because of the toed in gate of a bear. You need to allow enough space for the shoulder of a large bear to
clear the anchor tree and still step on your target area. Keep the area one step away from the snare on either
side free of twigs or bait so that the bear is comfortable stepping there with his outside foot before making the
final step onto the false floor and trigger. It is also helpful to set the snare so that the trigger is slightly below the
surface of the ground with the loop resting around the rim of the bowl that this creates. Before setting your
snare, if possible you should choose relatively level ground with perhaps a slight downhill grade leading into the

Another helpful tip to increase your chances of catching a bear by reducing non-target trips is to green stick the
trigger. Simply push a green stick (pencil-sized striped maple works good) deeply into the side of your hole and
slide it back into the other side of the hole so the stick is just under the trigger and supporting it gently. Try to
get about 5-10lbs of back pressure against the trigger. This allows most cubs, coons, and other small animals
to pass over the set, keeping the snare set for your target of a larger bear.
The good news is that bears are not that hard to catch; the bad news is they are even easier to miss.