Bear Hunting & Trapping

Hunting Regulations Icon Maine Hunting

Bear Hunting Permit

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 trap for bear, a trapping license and a bear trapping permit is required. Resident bear hunting permit $28.00, Nonresident bear hunting permit $75.00 or Nonresident November bear hunting permit $41.00.

Landowner Privileges

Qualified landowners may hunt bear on their own land without a big game license, but are required to have a valid bear hunting permit. See special landowner privileges.


The bait season closes on September 23, 2017. After this date, bait can still be used to assist dog hunters and trappers, but is illegal to shoot a bear over bait.

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 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 tenant
  • The bait areas will be cleaned up by November 10 as defined by the State litter law
  • 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).
  • The bait is placed no sooner than 30 days before opening day of the season and no later than October 31.

* 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.

Legal Hunting Equipment

Bear may be taken by use of rifle, handguns, muzzleloader, shotguns (with slugs only 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.).

Bear Hunting Prohibitions

A person cannot, within 50 yards of a bait site and without written permission:

  • hunt, trap, molest, or harass bear
  • release a dog or dogs to hunt bear
  • train dogs on bear

It is unlawful to:

  • disturb or interfere with a bait site using chemicals or any other method
  • use dogs to hunt bear during the open firearm season on deer
  • use more than 6 dogs at any one time to hunt for bear
  • 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
  • use a firearm with .17 or .22 caliber rimfire cartridges, or a shotgun with shotloads to hunt bear
  • hunt or trap bear, or release dogs for that purpose, within 500 yards of a solid waste disposal site
  • hunt bear after having killed and registered two (one by hunting, one by trapping) during the open season of that calendar year

Bear Hunting with a Maine Guide

Nonresidents must employ, and hunt in the presence of, a resident Maine guide in order to hunt bear with dogs. If the nonresident is a licensed Maine guide, they may hunt bear with dogs themselves, and may guide residents, but cannot guide nonresidents.

The total number of clients with a licensed guide may not exceed five.

Laws Regarding Registration

Prior to registration, bears may be cut up for ease of transportation, but all parts (except for the viscera and rib cage) must be presented and in such a manner that the sex of the animal can be determined.

Gift bear must have each part clearly labeled with the name and address of the person who registered the animal and the year in which it was registered.

Note: Hunters are required to remove a premolar tooth from the bear they harvest and provide the tooth at registration (instructions available at the registration and online). Hunters will be notified of the age of the bear they harvested on the Bear Hunting page of the MDIFW website next August.

For information on buying, selling or bartering animals, see Prohibition Regarding Selling of Wild Animals.

For information on tracking wounded bear, deer or moose with dogs, see Leashed Dog Tracking License.

2017 Bear Hunting and Trapping Seasons and Bag Limits

Seasons Dates Daily Bag and Possession Limit
General Hunting August 28 – November 25, 2017 2 bear may be taken annually
(1 by hunting and 1 by trapping)

Bait can be placed starting July 29, 2017

Hunting with Dogs September 11 – October 27, 2017
Hunting with Bait
August 28 – September 23, 2017
Trapping September 1 – October 31, 2017
Youth Day* August 26, 2017
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 more information, see Junior Hunters.

More information on Bear Trapping.