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Bear Trapping

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There is an open season on trapping bear from September 1 through October 31 annually. You are allowed to take one bear by trapping and one bear by hunting each year (new law as of 9/28/2011—see New Laws Enacted in 2011). See also Bear Hunting Regulations. You must obtain a trapping license and a bear trapping permit to take a bear by trapping.

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 apply to bear which have been taken by hunting. 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 types of traps you are allowed to use when trapping for bear are the cable trap (foot snare), and cage type live trap.
  • If you use a cage-type live trap, you must enclose the trap, as follows:
  • the trap must be enclosed by at least 2 strands of wire, one strand 2 feet from the ground and one strand 4 feet from the ground;
  • the wire must be held securely in position;
  • the wire must always be at least 5 yards but not more than 10 yards from the trap;
  • the enclosure must be plainly marked with signs that say “BEAR TRAP” in letters not less than 3 inches high; and
  • the signs must be securely fastened to the top strand of wire and be spaced around the entire enclosure not more than 20 feet apart.
  • If you use a cable trap, the trap must have a closing diameter of not less than 2½ inches.
  • Whenever cable traps (foot snares) are used to trap for bear, each 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 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).
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This is not the full law. Consult the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities.
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