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Bear Hunting

Hunting Regulations Icon Maine Hunting

2015 Bear Seasons & Bag Limits



Daily Bag Limit

Possession Limit

General Hunting Season

Aug 31 – Nov 28

2 may be taken annually — 1 by hunting, 1 by trapping

Bait can be placed starting August 1, 2015

Hunting with Dogs

Sept 14 – Oct 30

Hunting with Bait

(See below.)

Aug 31 – Sept 26


Sept 1 – Oct 31

Youth Day

Aug 29

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

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

For information on bear trapping, see below.

Bear Hunting Permit

The fee for this permit is $27.00* for residents and $74.00* for nonresidents and aliens. A bear permit is required to hunt bear prior to the firearm season on deer. During the firearms season on deer, nonresidents and aliens are required to obtain a permit to hunt bear. The fee for this permit is $40.00*. Although this permit is not required to trap for bear, you do need a trapping license and a bear trapping permit to trap for bear.

*Plus agent fee.


Bait may not be used to hunt for bear from September 27, 2015 to November 28, 2015. Hunting with the use of bait is defined as hunting from an observation stand, blind or other location which 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 or plant, or derivative of an animal or plant, used to attract bear. “Bear bait” does not include any 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 leasee;
  • Although bait can be used to assist dog hunters & trappers after the bait season closes, it is illegal to shoot a bear over bait after Sept. 26, 2015;
  • The bait areas will be cleaned up by November 10th as defined by the State litter laws; and
  • The person hunting from any stand or blind of another person has permission of the owner of that stand or blind.
  • Landowner permission (oral or in writing) is required to place bait on another person’s land.
  • Bait may not be placed more than 30 days before opening day of the season and not after Oct. 31.

A permit is required from Inland Fisheries & Wildlife to place bait on wildlife management areas for the purpose of hunting bear. Contact the wildlife biologist in your administrative region, which can be found on page 2, to apply for a bear baiting permit.

A permit is required from the Bureau of Parks and Lands, (207) 287-3821, to place bait on Public Reserved Land for the purpose of hunting bear. Baiting of animals is prohibited in State Parks and Historic Sites.

Bear Hunting Prohibitions

  • A person cannot within 50 yards of a bait site and without written permission hunt, trap, molest or harass bear or release a dog or dogs to hunt bear or train dogs on bear. A person cannot disturb the bait site by using chemicals or interfere with the bait site in any other way.
  • Dogs may not be used to hunt bear during the open firearm season on deer.
  • No more than 6 dogs may be used at any one time to hunt for bear.
  • Nonresidents may not use a dog or dogs to hunt for bear unless they employ and hunt in the presence of a resident Maine guide. This section does not apply to nonresidents who hold a valid Maine guide license — they may hunt bear with the use of dogs themselves and guide residents but not nonresidents. The total number of clients with a licensed guide may not be more than five.
  • You may not 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.
  • You may not hunt or trap bear or release dogs to hunt for bear within 500 yards from sites permitted or licensed for the disposal of solid waste.
  • Prior to registration, bears may be cut up for ease of transportation, but all parts of the bear (except for the viscera and rib cage) must be presented and in such a manner that the sex of the animal can be determined.
  • It is unlawful to hunt bear after having killed and registered two (one by hunting, one by trapping) during the open season of that calendar year.
  • Gift bear may not be possessed unless each part is clearly labeled with the name and address of the person who registered the animal and the year in which it was registered.
  • For information on buying, selling or bartering animals, see General Hunting Provisions.
  • For information on tracking wounded bear, deer or moose with a Leashed Dog Tracking License see Tagging, Transportation & Registration.

NOTE: Hunters are required to remove a premolar tooth from the bear they harvest and provide the tooth when they register their bear. Hunters will receive instructions at the registration station or can go online. Hunters will be notified of the age of the bear they harvested on the Bear Hunting Page on the Department’s website next August.

Bear Trapping


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

If you trap for black bear you are required to follow the same general 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). In addition, you are required to follow other rules which apply specifically to bear trapping, as follows:

  • You are not allowed to have more than one trap set for bear at any time.
  • The only trap you are allowed to use when trapping for bear is a cable trap (foot snare), and cage type live trap.
  • The Belisle foot snare is prohibited.
  • When using a cable trap, the trap must have a closing diameter of not less than 2½ 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 each day.
  • You are not allowed to catch a bear in a trap and allow another person to kill or register the bear.
  • You are not allowed to 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 page above for rules about the use of bear baits.)
  • A line of demarcation of at least 500 yards shall be established at sites permitted or licensed for the disposal of solid waste. A person may not trap within the demarcation area (except that an agent of the commissioner is exempt for the purpose of live trapping of nuisance bear).
  • All trapping licenses are issued from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife office in Augusta. Trapping licenses cannot be purchased online.

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 restoration and conservation efforts directed towards America’s wildlife resources. These funds have played a vital role in the management of Maine’s wildlife since they were first used in 1939 to enhance the Department’s wildlife management capabilities. Revenues are collected from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, pistols, revolvers, bows and arrows and deposited in the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Fund.

These funds support a wide array of projects in Maine which include: 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.