August 6, 2020

Maine Bear Season Starts Monday, Youth Bear Hunting Day is Saturday

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s bear season begins on Monday, August 27 throughout the state of Maine, and youth hunters get their own day this Saturday, August 25.

“Bear hunters should have a good early season as natural foods seem to be in shorter supply this summer, particularly up north and Downeast as bears are on the move and actively looking for food,” said Randy Cross, bear field crew leader for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Maine’s black bear population is closely monitored by Department biologists through one of the most extensive, longest-running biological studies in the U.S. The study began in 1975 and continues today. Over nearly 40 years, Department biologists have captured and tracked over 3,000 bears to determine the health and condition of Maine’s bears and estimate how many cubs are born each year.

 “Over those forty years, it’s very clear that during years with poor natural food production of nuts and berries, bears are moving more seeking out other food sources, and hunters are more successful,” said Cross.

Maine’s bear season is divided into three segments, as hunters can hunt with bait from August 27 to September 22, hunters can hunt with dogs from September 10 to October 26, and hunters can still hunt or stalk bear from August 27 to November 24.  Maine has one of the longest bear seasons in the country since Maine has one of the largest bear population estimated at over 36,000 animals. In addition to a season that starts in August and ends after Thanksgiving, Maine allows hunters to take two bears, one by hunting and one by trapping.

In 2017, hunters harvested approximately 2,900 bears during the three-month season. In 2016, numbers were similar with hunters taking 2,859 bears.

Even with the lengthy bear season, only about 25% of all bear hunters are successful. By contrast, 73% of moose hunters were successful last year, turkey hunters enjoy success rates between 30-35% and deer hunters in Maine are successful 14-18% of the time.

Young hunters will once again get their own day on Saturday, August 25. Youth hunters who have a junior hunting license can hunt bear with a firearm, bow, or crossbow on this day.  Youth hunters may hunt bear with the use of bait, or still hunt; however the use of dogs during youth hunting day is prohibited.

Youth hunters may hunt only in the presence of an adult supervisor who is at least 18 years of age.  The adult supervisor may not possess a firearm, bow, or crossbow while the youth hunter is participating in the bear hunt; however, the parent, guardian or qualified adult may carry a handgun pursuant to Title 25 M.R.S. SS 2001-A, but the handgun may not be used for the purpose of hunting. Any person who accompanies a junior hunter other than the parent or guardian, must either possess a valid adult hunting license or have successfully completed a hunter education course.

With natural food production down, hunters should have greater success, and in-state research shows that abundance of natural foods is also what drives nuisance bear complaints.  In years when there is a good natural food crop, the numbers of complaints drop. In poor natural food years, nuisance complaints increase. This year, there has been over 450 complaints through mid-August. Maine generally averages 500 nuisance complaints for the year.

Over a span of 40 years, Maine’s bear study has shown that not only does the availability of natural foods drive bear cub survival and bear birth rates, but it also directly influences when bears den for the winter, as well as hunter success rates. In poor natural food years, hunter success is higher than in years when natural food is abundant.

Successful bear hunters are reminded that it is mandatory to submit a tooth from their bear when registering. Tagging agents will provide envelopes and instructions to hunters as to how to remove the tooth. Biologists age the tooth, and the biological data collected help biologists adjust season lengths and bag limits for bears.  In August, hunters can learn the age of the bear they harvested the previous season by visiting https://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting-trapping/harvest-information.html.

Hunters and trappers must have a bear permit in addition to a big game hunting or trapping license to harvest a bear in Maine.  However, during the deer firearm season, resident hunters can harvest a bear without a bear permit. Bear hunting is most popular and bear populations are the densest in the northern and downeast regions of the state.

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Turkey Season Starts Monday Throughout Maine

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

AUGUSTA, Maine – Spring turkey season starts on Monday, May 2 throughout the state, and youth hunters have their own day on this Saturday, April 30. With this year’s milder than usual winter, hunters should be seeing a lot of birds.

“This was an easy winter on turkeys, even up in northern Maine,” said IFW game bird biologist Kelsey Sullivan. “We had good survival rates through the winter, and this was on top of a good production year for turkeys last spring.”

The light snow meant a lot of open ground where turkeys could feed through the winter resulting in higher survival rates and healthy birds.

“There are a lot of younger birds around, and the weights on some of them are impressive,” said Sullivan who had captured and weighed some year-old jakes earlier this spring. “We had some healthy 14-15 pound jakes and even measured one that was 19 pounds.”

Wild turkeys are a wildlife success story in Maine. Once gone completely from Maine landscapes, they are now a familiar sight in all Maine’s 16 counties, thanks to a reintroduction and management plan started in the 1970s by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

“Maine has some excellent turkey hunting,” said Sullivan. “Success rates are very good, the birds are lightly hunted compared to other states, and you can hunt turkeys throughout the state.”

With a valid Maine big game or small game hunting license, turkey hunters can purchase a wild turkey permit for just $20 for both residents and nonresidents. This permit allows turkey hunters to take up to two wild turkeys in the spring, and an additional two turkeys in the fall. Legal hunting hours for turkey hunting stretch from ½ hour before sunrise and ½ hour after sunset. The spring season runs from May 2 until June 4.

While the turkey season is open throughout the state in all wildlife management districts, hunters should note that that there is a split season in northern Maine in WMDs 1-6, as well as one turkey bag limit in WMDs 1-6 and 8. Hunters may take two bearded turkeys, but no more than one of these bearded turkeys can come from WMDs 1-6 or 8.

If you are turkey hunting in northern Maine, in WMDs 1-6, turkey hunters in are assigned to either Season A or Season B based on their year of birth.  During “even” numbered calendar years such as this (2016), hunters with “even” birth years will be authorized to hunt during Season A (May 2-7, 2016 and May 16-21, 2016 this year); hunters with “odd” birth years will be authorized to hunt during Season B (May 9-14, 2016 and May 23-28, 2016). All turkey hunters can hunt the last week (May 30- June 4, 2016).

During “odd” numbered calendar years (2017, 2019, etc.), hunters with “odd” birth years will be authorized to hunt during Season A; hunters with “even” birth years will be authorized to hunt during Season B. Many turkey hunters are familiar with this split season as it was in place statewide prior to 2007. More information and WMD maps are available at www.mefishwildlife.com.

The Department strongly encourages all turkey hunters to reach out to landowners before hunting. Please remember to ask first before accessing private land, and respect any and all requests of the landowners.

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Maine’s Bear Season Open August 25, 2014

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife:

AUGUSTA, Maine – Bear hunting season begins on Monday, August 25 at 5:19 a.m. throughout the State of Maine. Last year, with over 10,000 hunters purchased permits to hunt bear, and 2,845 bears were killed.

Black bear populations are growing throughout North America, and due to Maine’s heavily forested landscape, Maine boasts one of the largest bear populations in the United States at over 30,000 bears. As a result, Maine has one of the longest hunting seasons in the country, stretching from the end of August to after Thanksgiving.

“Hunting is the Department’s tool for managing this thriving bear population,” says Jennifer Vashon, one of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s bear biologists. “And due to Maine’s dense forest, bear hunting with dogs and with bait are essential for controlling Maine’s bear population.”

Department bear biologists expect bait hunters to do well this year as the availability of many natural foods has been delayed or are in low supply due to the cool, wet spring. Over a span of 40 years, Maine’s bear study has shown that not only does the availability of natural foods drive bear cub survival and bear birth rates, but it also directly influences when bears den for the winter, as well as hunter success rates. In poor natural food years, hunter success is higher than in years when natural food is abundant.

Availability of natural foods also fuels nuisance bear complaints. In 2013, when there was a good natural food crop, nuisance complaints dropped to 311, well under the five-year average of approximately 500 complaints per year. This year, due to poor natural foods, nuisance complaints have increased to over 600.

Maine’s bear hunting season is divided into three segments. Hunters can hunt bears with bait from August 25 to September 20; hunters can hunt bears with dogs from September 8 through October 31; and hunters can still hunt or stalk from August 25 through November 29. The trapping season runs from September 1 through October 31. You are allowed to take up to two bears during the year; one by hunting and one by trapping. Over 90% of the bear harvest occurs during the first four weeks of the season when hunters can use the traditional methods of hunting with dogs and baiting.

Maine is one of 32 states that allow bear hunting. In the 32 states that allow bear hunting, nearly three-quarters of the states (23) allow either hunting with dogs, bait or both.

Since 2004, Maine’s bear population has increased by over 30% and is estimated at more than 30,000 animals. Bear/human conflicts have also increased in frequency in the past 10 years, with the department responding to an average of 500 nuisance bear calls a year.

Even with the lengthy bear season, only about 25% of all bear hunters are successful. By contrast, 72% of moose hunters, and 32% of turkey hunters were successful last year. Deer hunters who hunted last year with an Any Deer permit had a 58% success rate according to surveys; while without an any-deer permit, deer hunters had an 18% success rate. Historically, deer hunters success rates are in the 15% range.

Maine’s black bear population is closely monitored by Department biologists through one of the most extensive, longest-running biological studies in the U.S. The study began in 1975 and continues today. Over nearly 40 years, Department biologists have captured and tracked over 3,000 bears to determine the health and condition of Maine’s bears and estimate how many cubs are born each year.

Successful bear hunters are reminded that it is mandatory to submit a tooth from their bear when registering. Tagging agents will provide envelopes and instructions to hunters as to how to remove the tooth. Biologists age the tooth, and the biological data collected help biologists adjust season lengths and bag limits for bears.

Hunters must have a bear permit in addition to a big game hunting license to hunt bear in Maine. Bear hunting is most popular and bear populations are the densest in the northern and downeast regions of the state.

The bear season is carefully regulated. Maine Game Wardens will be patrolling the woods of Maine ensuring that bait areas, hunting stands and blinds are labeled properly, and they will be enforcing all other laws pertaining to the hunting of bears.

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Maine Turkey Season Starts Thursday

AUGUSTA, Maine — Today marks the start of the upland bird season in much of the state, and this fall, turkey hunters have an expanded season that starts October 3 and can take up to two birds this fall season.

Wild turkeys are a wildlife success story in Maine. Once gone from Maine landscapes, they are now a familiar sight in all Maine’s 16 counties, thanks to a reintroduction and management plan started in the 1970s by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

With a turkey population that continues to grow, turkey hunters are seeing the benefit as this fall they will see a longer season, higher bag limit, and more areas open to hunting than ever before. Successful hunters will be happy to know that there is a reduced registration fee, now only $2.00, down from $5.00.

“Maine has some of the finest turkey hunting opportunities in the eastern United States,” said Brad Allen, IFW’s game bird biologist, “Success rates are high, the birds are lightly hunted compared to other states, and there are a variety of areas to hunt turkeys in the state.”

The fall turkey season now spans four weeks starting October 3 and continuing through November 1, running concurrently with the archery season for deer. Hunters can hunt the entire day from ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset. Hunters can take up to two turkeys this fall, but should note where they are hunting. In some western and eastern wildlife management districts (12, 13, 18, 26 and 29), hunters can only harvest one turkey of either sex or age but in southern and central Maine (WMDs 15-17, 20-25, and 28), hunters can take two turkeys of either sex or age. Wildlife Management Districts 1-11, 14, 19, and 27 are closed to fall turkey hunting, but are open for spring turkey hunting.

Today marks the beginning of the grouse and woodcock seasons, and the waterfowl season in the southern and coastal zones.

Grouse hunters who hunt in unorganized territories should take note of a new law that requires grouse hunters that are in or travelling through unorganized territories to label their harvested birds with their name and the date taken before the next calendar day.

An Unorganized Territory is defined by the state as the area of Maine having no local, incorporated municipal government. Unorganized territories in Maine consist of over 400 townships, plus many coastal islands that do not lie within municipal bounds.

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Moose Season Set To Begin Monday In Northern, Eastern Areas Of Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine — After a record season for moose hunters last year, moose season begins Monday in the northern and eastern part of the state. But even though there are more permits this year than ever before, permit numbers are increasing in one area of the state, and decreasing in others.

“The increase in permit numbers may be deceiving,” said IFW moose biologist Lee Kantar, “We have increased the number of permits in the northern section of the state where the moose population is above our population goal, and have lowered the number of permits in other parts of the state where we are at or below our moose population goals.”

In all, permits have increased in five northern wildlife management districts that can support additional harvest, and permits have decreased in 12 wildlife management districts. There are 25 out of 29 wildlife management districts in the state that are open for moose hunting.

“By adjusting the number and type of permits available to hunters, we can control the moose harvest and manage population growth,” says Kantar.

Maine’s moose population is estimated at under 70,000 animals, reduced intentionally from the 76,000 it was two years ago through increased permits to hunt moose. Maine’s moose population is a valued resource, due to the high demands for both viewing and hunting. Moose population goals are derived through a public process, and different areas of the state are classified for recreational opportunity (hunting and viewing), road safety, or a compromise between the two.

Maine’s moose hunting season is divided into four separate segments. The first segment runs from September 23-28; the second from October 14-19; the third segment from November 4-9; and the fourth from November 2 through 30. This week there are 950 hunters who have permits for northern and eastern Maine during the initial week of the season.

In order to assess and monitor moose population health and growth, the department is once again asking cow moose hunters during the November season who are hunting in Northern Maine (WMDs 1-5, 7, 8) to bring the ovaries to the registration station where they tag their moose. IFW is examining the ovaries to help determine rates of pregnancy.

This information, coupled with the information on harvested bull and cow age structure obtained from moose teeth that are collected at moose registration stations are combined with our aerial surveys to give the department a more complete picture of the status of the moose population.

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Maine’s Bear Season Opens Monday, August 26

AUGUSTA, Maine – Bear hunting season begins on Monday, August 26 at 5:20 a.m. throughout the State of Maine. Last year, over 10,000 hunters purchased permits to hunt bear, with 3,207 bears killed.

Maine’s bear population is one of the largest in the country, and Maine offers bear hunters a three-month bear season and a variety of traditional methods to hunt bear.

Since 2004, Maine’s bear population has increased by over 30% and is estimated at more than 30,000 animals. Bear/human conflicts have also increased in frequency in the past ten years, with the department responding to an average of 500 nuisance bear calls a year.

“Hunting is the Department’s primary tool for managing this thriving bear population,” says Jennifer Vashon, one of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s bear biologists. “To manage Maine’s bear population at levels desired by a diverse public, Maine allows bear hunters to use several traditional methods over a three-month fall hunting season.”

Over 90% of the bear harvest occurs during the first four weeks of the season when hunters can utilize the traditional methods of hounding and baiting. There is also a two-month trapping season for bear, and hunters with the proper permit can shoot a bear during the deer firearms season.

Even with the lengthy season, only about 30% of all bear hunters hunting with bait or hounds and 20% of bear trappers are successful. By contrast, 79% of moose hunters, 38% of turkey hunters and 14% of deer hunters were successful in 2012.

Maine’s black bear population is closely monitored by Department biologists through one of the most extensive, longest running biological studies in the U.S. The study began in 1975, and continues today. Over the last 38 years, Department biologists have captured and tracked over 3,000 bears to determine the health and condition of Maine’s bears and estimate how many cubs are born each year.

Successful bear hunters are reminded that it is mandatory to submit a tooth from their bear when registering. Tagging agents will provide envelopes and instructions to hunters as to how to remove the tooth. Biologists age the tooth, and the biological data collected help biologists adjust season lengths and bag limits for bears.

Hunters must have a bear permit in addition to a big game hunting license in order to hunt bear in Maine. Bear hunting is most popular in the northern and downeast regions of the state and is a vital part of the local economy. A 2004 study showed that bear hunting contributed over $70 million annually to the Maine economy and supports nearly 900 jobs.

The general hunting season for bear runs from August 26 through November 30. Hunting with bait is allowed from August 26 until September 21. Hunters may hunt with dogs from September 9 to November 1.

The bear season is carefully regulated. Maine Game Wardens will be patrolling the woods of Maine ensuring that bait areas, hunting stands and blinds are labeled properly, and they will be enforcing all other laws pertaining to the hunting of bears.

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Wild Turkey Season Starts October 13, 2012 in Maine

One week of wild turkey hunting with shotgun begins tomorrow in selected Wildlife Management Districts. One wild turkey of either sex and any age per permit holder is allowed.

Shotguns are allowed in WMD’s 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, and 26. For other Wildlife Management Districts it is archery only.

Dates of the shotgun hunt are October 13 through October 19, 2012. For complete rules and regulations, see the current edition of the Maine Hunting & Trapping Guide, or visit us on the web at www.mefishwildlife.com.

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MDIFW: Bear Hunting Season Opens Today With Bright Outlook for Hunters

Views and opinions expressed in this press release are those only of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Press Release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

The bear hunting season officially starts today in Maine, with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife expecting many hunters to have a successful season due to poor natural food levels for bears.

The Department is also reminding bear hunters that they are required by law to submit a tooth from their harvested bear, which helps to monitor the health of Maine’s black bear population.

Maine’s general black bear hunting season opens today, Monday, Aug. 27 and runs until Nov. 24. The season for hunting black bears with dogs is Sept. 10 to Oct. 26, while hunting with bait is permitted between Aug. 27 and Sept. 22.

This year, hunters also have the ability to take one bear by hunting throughout the season and an additional bear by trapping starting on Sept. 1.

While last year’s bear hunting season numbers show a low harvest of 2,400 bears due to the abundance of natural foods like berries and nut crops, this year should be a different story.

Last fall the success rate for hound and bait hunters was 27 percent combined. This year may be closer to a 40 percent success rate.

Bears have been actively foraging this summer, causing the number of conflicts between bears and humans to be higher than usual in many northeastern states. That includes Maine, where the Warden Service received nearly twice as many bear-related complaints in the first six months of the year compared to the same time period last year.

The increase in bear conflicts is an indication of poor natural food availability for the bears, which should also increase bait interest among bears and lead to more success for hunters using bait.

Because of that, this year’s bear hunting season should be a good one for longtime bear hunters as well as those people who have yet to hunt black bears and want to give it a try.

“During lean falls like this, it is much easier for hunters to establish new baits because bears are searching more diligently for high calorie food sources,” said IFW Biologist Randy Cross. “Many hunters were frustrated with hunting bears last fall when natural foods were plentiful, but this fall should be a different story for many. Some years, the bears win and others the bear hunters win – this year looks like it will be the latter”

This will be the second year that hunters are required to extract a tooth from their harvested bear, which gives the Department information about the age structure of bears in the state.

“Knowing the age of the harvested bears provides a valuable tool for monitoring the health of Maine’s black bear population,” said IFW Biologist Jen Vashon. “Having that information enables the Department to track population trends and determine the effectiveness of our management programs which contributes to a stable bear population.”

Hunters should submit the tooth at their registration station, which will provide instructions for doing so.

During the 2011 hunting season, the Department received teeth from 1,914 bears.

Hunters who submitted a tooth from their bear in 2011 can find out its age by visiting

http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/bearTooth2011.htm.

The oldest bear that the Department received a tooth from was a 29-year-old female, while the oldest male bear recorded was 23 years old.

The majority of the bears recorded in 2011 – 74 percent – were between the ages of one and five years old.

Like most hunted populations, older bears make up a smaller proportion of the harvest with just over half of the bears being three years old or older.

At the end of this hunting season, the Department will receive teeth from the check stations and will send the teeth to the lab. The ages of bears harvested during the 2012 season should be posted on the Department’s website next fall.

To find out more about last year’s harvest and bear tooth age reports to get more information on bear hunting in Maine, go to http://www.maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/bear.htm.

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