Bear hunting regulations are incredibly diverse. They change from state to state in the U.S. and province to province in Canada, but one thing is always constant: the government takes bear conservation seriously and will take the shirt off your back—not to mention the gun off your rack—if you’re in flagrant violation of the law. It’s important that you follow the rules for the sake of the future of hunting, and for your own future as a hunter.
Wherever you’re going, make absolutely certain to learn all of the laws that affect bear hunts in that area. We provide summaries of local regulations on the Bear Hunting Blog, but always be certain to read the official documentation before going on your hunt. Rules change over time, and it’s always possible that we’ve missed something.
Get Your Bear License – and Everything Else
Every state or province that allows hunters to go after bears will require that you purchase at least one license. Some may require only a big game license; others will require a specific bear license, a general hunting one, a conservation stamp, and a half-dozen permits for hunting specific zones and using certain weapons.
Many places have additional regulations, such as Newfoundland’s requirement that all nonresident hunters work with a local outfitter. It often seems, too, like no two state governments agree on whether the use of bear bait, dogs, crossbows, or handguns is safe, ethical or responsible. On top of this, some individual districts within a given state might have their own hunting laws.
It’s very important to research all of the local regs before your hunt. Links to the wildlife department (Fish and Game, Natural Resources, etc.) of each U.S. state and Canadian province that allows bear hunts are listed below. These official sites are the only places that you can absolutely trust to have accurate and recent information on bear hunting regulations. After visiting the site and reading everything you need to know, be sure to write down any questions you have left, then give the department a call. Run your list of licenses and permits and the weapon you plan to use by them to make sure you’re in full cooperation with the law. This short call could save you a lot of trouble down the road!
Season dates subject to change. Please review State website for current regulations prior to hunting for the latest season dates and regulations.
Alaska Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – Open year round.
Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation
Arizona Bear Hunting
Arizona Department of Game and Fish
Arkansas Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – August 15-December 11 season varies depending on method.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
California Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – Second Saturday in October to last Sunday in December.
California Bear Hunting – California Department of Fish and Game
Colorado Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – September 2 to September 30
Colorado Division of Wildlife
Georgia Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – September 10 to December 4.
Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
Idaho Bear Hunting
Tag – August 30 to October 31 and April 15 to June 30.
Idaho Fish & Game Department
Kentucky Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag (Residents ONLY) – December 10-11
Kentucky Fish and Wildlife
Maine Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – September 15 – November 30
(spring hunt available on Native American land)
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Maryland Bear Hunting
Lottery Permit – October 24-29
Maryland Department of Natural Resources Wildlife and Heritage Services
Massachusetts Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – September 4 to September 22 & November 5-24
Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game
Michigan Bear Hunting
Lottery Permit – September 10 to October 26.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division
Minnesota Bear Hunting
Lottery Permit – September 1 to October 14.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Nevada Bear Hunting
Permit – September 15 to December 31 or when quota met.
Nevada Division of Wildlife
New Hampshire Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – September 1 to November 22 ending sooner in some area.
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
New Jersey Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – December 5-10
New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife
New Mexico Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – August 16 to November 30 depending on area.
Draw permit August 1-31
New Mexico Game and Fish Department
New York Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – September 17 to December 20 ending sooner in some areas.
New York Department of Environmental Conservation
North Carolina Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – October 17 to December 24 depending on hunting area.
North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Oklahoma Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – October 1-30.
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
Oregon Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – August 1 to December 3.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Pennsylvania Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – November 14 to December 3 depending on hunting area.
Pennsylvania Game Commission
South Carolina Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – December 1-15
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Tennessee Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – September 24 to December 14 depending on area.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Utah Bear Hunting
Lottery Permit – April 10 to May 30, August 28 to September 30 & Nov 1-30.
Utah State Department of Natural Resources
Vermont Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – September 1 to November 14.
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department
Virginia Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – October 1 to November 18.
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Washington Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – August 1 to November 15 depending on hunting area.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
West Virginia Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – September 26 to December 31 depending on hunting area.
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
Wisconsin Bear Hunting
Permit – September 7 to October 1.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Wyoming Bear Hunting
Over the Counter Tag – April 15 to May 31 & August 15 to November 15 depending on area
Wyoming Game and Fish Department
No Bear Hunting
Alberta Bear Hunting
Sustainable Resource Development
British Columbia Bear Hunting
Ministry of Natural Resources
Manitoba Bear Hunting
Manitoba Ministry of Natural Resources
New Brunswick Bear Hunting
New Brunswick Natural Resources
Newfoundland Bear Hunting
Newfoundland/Labrador Natural Resources
Labrador Bear Hunting
Newfoundland/Labrador Natural Resources
Nova Scotia Bear Hunting
Nova Scotia Hunting Regulations
Northwest Territories Bear Hunting
NWT Natural Resources
Ontario Bear Hunting
Ontario Natural Resources
Saskatchewan Bear Hunting
Saskatchewan Natural Resources
Yukon Bear Hunting
Yukon Ministry of Natural Resources