Bear hunting regulations

General information

Please read the following regulations carefully. In addition, general hunting regulations, legal firearms and bows and arrows allowed for big game hunting are described in the Hunting and Trapping Regulations, which will be available in August.

When registering a bear, you will need to provide the deer permit area of where the bear was taken. Deer permit areas, which will not be designated until August, can be found online using the interactive deer map or the deer permit map insert that is part of the printed hunting and trapping regulations.

Important dates

  • Aug. 1: License purchase deadline for lottery winners
  • Aug. 6: Unsold licenses available for purchase
  • Aug. 17: Start of baiting
  • Sept. 1 - Oct. 14: Season

Reminders

  • New bear quota areas: New quota areas have replaced areas 26 and 44. These new areas are 27, 28, 46 and 47. If you previously hunted in areas 26 and 44 and intend to hunt the same area, make sure you review the new boundaries before you go bear hunting to assure you're in the right area. Check the boundaries online using the interactive map.
  • Tooth submission is mandatory: Failure to send in a tooth sample from a harvested bear is a violation of Minnesota Game and Fish law (MS 97B.411).
  • Online bait station registration: A convenient online tool exists for bear hunters to register and change bear bait stations rather than submitting paper forms. The DNR strongly encourages the use of this tool. To use this application, create an account and follow the instructions on the website for entering and modifying bait stations.
  • One bear only in No Quota Area: A hunter can harvest only one bear in the No Quota Area.

License types, eligibility and costs

Licensing

Two types of hunting licenses are available:

  1. Permit areas: A total of 3,350 permits were offered through a lottery drawing in 13 permit areas. Hunters with licenses for permit areas are allowed to hunt for bears only in the permit area listed on their license.
  2. No Quota Area: An unlimited number of permits are available for purchase over-the-counter to take bears in the No Quota Area, which is the part of the state outside of the 13 permit areas. No Quota Area licenses are only valid in the No Quota Area. When purchasing a No Quota Area bear license, you will be asked in which deer permit area (kill block) you intend to hunt.

Eligible hunters

Both license types require that individuals be at least 10 years of age for residents and non-residents prior to hunting and have not had their big game hunting privileges suspended pursuant to MS Section 97A.421.

In addition, anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979, who is age 12 or older, must have a Firearm Safety Certificate (or equivalent) or other evidence of successfully completing a hunter safety course to obtain a bear hunting license.

No-Quota license purchase

No Quota licenses may be purchased by any eligible person. Licenses are available after July 1. No Quota licenses are allowed only outside of the 13 bear permit areas. Obtaining a No Quota bear hunting license has no effect upon eligibility or preference in drawings for permit areas. If you buy a No Quota license after the start of the season, it is not valid until the day following purchase.

License fees

$45 for residents age 18 and older. Youth ages 10-12 must obtain a license but will pay no fee. $6.00 for youth ages 13-17. $231 for non-residents age 18 and older. All prices include issuing fee.

License purchase deadline

Bear lottery winners must purchase their license by Aug. 1. Unsold and any surplus licenses will then become available at noon on Aug. 6 and may be purchased by any eligible person.

Season dates, shooting hours and bag limit

Season dates

The bear hunting season is Sept. 1 - Oct. 14 in all permit areas and the No Quota Area.

Bag limit

Bag limit is one bear in quota zones and one bear in the No-Quota Zone during any calendar year whether by firearm or archery. Bears taken may be either sex or any age except bear cubs. Cub bears are defined as bears less than one year old. No party hunting for bears is allowed. This means no hunter may kill a bear for another hunter, and a hunter may only tag a bear that he or she killed.

Shooting hours

Legal shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Bait stations & garbage dumps

Definitions

"Bait" is any material placed for the purpose of attracting or attempting to attract bears. A bear "bait station" is any location where bait is placed for the purpose of hunting. Materials that are at all times attended by the hunter are not considered a bait station.

The following materials may not be used as baits for bear:

  • A carcass from a mammal containing more than 25 percent of the intact carcass
  • Meat from mammals that contains bones
  • Bone of mammals
  • Solid waste containing bottles, cans, plastic, paper or metal
  • Materials that are not readily biodegradable
  • Any part of a swine except cured pork

 

Note: 55-gallon drums, pails, plastic garbage bags or other containers may not be left unattended at bait stations except for drums on private land as noted below.

Establishing bait stations

A person may not hunt bears within 100 yards of a bait station unless it is registered and marked with a sign in accordance with the following regulations:

  • Requirement for placing bait: A person may not place bait for bears on or after August 17 unless the person has a 2018 bear license or is operating under the direction of a person with a 2018 bear license. If you are placing bait for someone else, you must have their MNDNR number in your possession.
  • Bait station limits: No more than three bait stations may be placed at one time for each licensed bear hunter. If a hunter wishes to establish a different bait station, one of the hunter's three existing bait stations must be removed. To remove an existing bear bait station, complete the following items:
    1. Remove the bear bait sign at the abandoned bait.
    2. Log into the online bear bait registration website and remove/abandon the bait station or complete a paper bait registration form to note the abandoned bait station by entering the applicable location information and placing a check mark by "abandoned" and/or to register any newly created bait stations.
    3. Each licensed bear hunting outfitter may establish up to three bait stations in addition to bait stations placed for licensed hunters.
  • Date: A person may not establish, service, maintain or place a sign for any bait station prior to August 17. A person may not establish a bait station within 100 yards of any site where bait has been placed before August 17.
  • Bait station registration: A person may not establish a bait station without registering it with the DNR. This also applies when establishing a bait for someone else. The name, address, MN DNR number, and telephone number of the person who established the bait station and the county, township, range, and section for which the bait station is established must be mailed, no later than the next postal service day after establishing the bait station. The name and Minnesota DNR number of the person the bait is being established for must also be included. Bait station registration forms should be mailed to the appropriate address as per the instructions on the forms. Multiple forms may be used for persons hunting together, but only 3 baits may be registered per hunter. If multiple people are hunting together, and more than 3 baits are being placed, a separate bait registration form must be submitted for every 3 baits. Include the required information for each hunter that may be hunting the site.
  • Online bait station registration: A convenient way to register bait stations with the bear bait registration app. This site only allows registration of 3 baits per licensed hunter. If multiple people are hunting together, establish multiple accounts to register more than 3 baits. Each account requires a DNR Customer Number (MDNR#), with a valid bear license for the 2018 season.
  • Bait station signs: A person who establishes a bait station must display a sign at the site. The sign must be made of plastic, wood, or metal and be at least 6-by-10 inches in size and, on public land, no more than 18 inches by 24 inches in size. The sign must contain either the licensee's name and address, the licensee's driver's license number, or the licensee's MNDNR number for who the bait is being placed for. If being placed by someone other than the licensee, the sign must also include the full name and address or the Minnesota DNR number or Minnesota driver's license number of the person who is placing the bait. The letters and numbers must be legibly printed and either painted or impressed on the sign material. Bait station signs must be prominently displayed between 6 and 10 feet above the natural ground level, and within 20 feet of the bait. Signs must be removed within 48 hours after the close of the bear season. Placing other signs or warnings to mark generic locations of bait stations or advise people of bait stations on public land is prohibited.
  • Use of drums on private land: A private landowner or person authorized by the private landowner may use a drum to bait bear on the person's private land. The drum must be secured to a tree so that it cannot be moved from the site by a bear and may not include a mechanical device for dispensing feed. The drum must be marked with (1) the licensee's name and address; (2) the licensee's driver's license number; or (3) the "MDNR#" issued to the licensee for a licensed bear hunter or a licensed bear outfitter. A "drum" means a 30 gallon or larger drum.
  • Other baiting provisions: A person may not establish a bait station within 150 yards of an established campsite. A person may not establish a bait station in Bear Permit Area 22 (Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and the portion of the BWCAW outside of Bear Permit Area 22). A person may not establish a bait station or take a bear within one-half mile of a garbage dump.

Tagging & registration

Site tagging:

A person who takes a bear must tag it using the site tag that comes with the person's bear hunting license. The site tag must be fastened around the bear's sternum (breast bone), through an ear, or around a leg bone or tendon, in such a way that the tag cannot be re¬moved. See the deer tagging section of the Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook for tagging instruc-tions.

Validation

You are required to validate the site tag by punching out or marking with a pen the date of the kill, the sex of the bear, and whether taken by firearm or archery. This tag must remain in the hunter's possession and must be attached before putting the bear in a vehicle or hanging it in camp.

Registration

A person who takes a bear must register it within 48 hours of harvest. Bears may be registered in person, online or by telephone. Successful hunters must obtain a big game possession tag or a registration confirmation number from telephone or online registration. Successful hunters must obtain a tooth envelope at a bear registration station within 48 hours after the close of the season, regardless of how they registered their bear.

Procedures

Every bear must be registered. In all cases, the bear must be registered within 48 hours of harvest and before the bear is processed either privately or commercially. You will need to know the deer permit area for where the bear was taken.

There are three registration options:

  1. Walk-in bear registration stations: This process is unchanged from previous years. Bear registration stations are listed on the DNR web site. The person whose tag is on the bear must personally present the bear at an official bear registration station and receive a big game possession tag. Also at this time you MUST pick up a tooth envelope and submit as per DNR instruction.
  2. Telephone: This is typically called Interactive Voice Response (IVR). The system will accept either key punch or voice (e.g., press or say 1). You will be asked to record a confirmation number so you must have a pen to complete the registration process. To register your bear using the IVR system, follow the steps below. These steps are also printed on your bear license.
    1. Dial 1-888-706-6367 to get into the system.
    2. Enter the Harvest Registration Number that appears on the license.
    3. It's a 9-digit number that links back to the person and license type. This is the large and bold number printed on your bear license and is NOT your MDNR number.
    4. Enter the 3-digit area where the bear was killed. The system will only accept valid deer permit areas. If you are not familiar with these areas you may find a map of the deer permit areas on the MN DNR web site at mndnr.gov\deermap.
    5. Enter the date the bear was killed.
    6. Enter the type of bear – adult male or adult female.
    7. The system will then give you a confirmation number that must be written on the license in the appropriate area.
  3. Internet
    1. Go to mndnr.gov\gameregistration to register your bear.
    2. Customer must log in first by using one of the search options that pertains to the customer.
    3. Once customer profile appears click on "Register A Harvest".
    4. Enter 9-digit harvest registration number on the license. This the large and bold number printed on your deer license and is NOT your MNDNR number. Confirm this is the license on the bear.
    5. Enter the 3-digit deer permit area where the deer was killed. The system will only accept valid deer permit areas. If you are not familiar with these areas you can view a map of deer permit areas on the DNR web site at mndnr.gov\deermap.
    6. Enter the date the bear was killed.
    7. Enter the type of bear – adult male or adult female.
    8. The system will then give you a confirmation number that must be written on the license and site tag in the appropriate area. You will also have the option to print the transaction.

Specific information for telephone and internet bear registration

  • If you use telephone or internet registration, you MUST complete the registration by obtaining a tooth envelope at a bear registration station, no later than 48 hours after the close of the season. Follow the instructions on the tooth envelope for submitting bear teeth. Instructions for tooth samples and a complete list of bear registration stations are listed on the DNR bear hunting web page.
  • The site tagging regulations have not changed.
  • When the system asks for bear type, please use the following information:
    • Adult male: Legal (not a cub) male bear
    • Adult female: Legal (not a cub) female bear
    • A harvest registration number can only be used once. The system will not accept multiple registrations using the same number.

Sub-dividing bears prior to registration

Bears may be skinned, quartered, or further divided prior to transportation and registration, but all edible meat and all other parts of the bear retained by the hunter must be presented for registration at the same time.

Mandatory tooth collection

DNR researchers use the information from bear teeth to monitor bear populations. Every person who kills a bear must submit a tooth sample to the DNR (see instructions on bear tooth envelope). Postage-paid envelopes for mailing the bear teeth to DNR are provided at bear registration stations. Each person who kills a bear is responsible for mailing the envelope to the DNR. All individuals who submit a tooth sample, prior to November 1, will be sent information on the age of their bear and a bear cooperation patch.

If you are unable to obtain a bear tooth envelope from a bear registration station please follow these instructions. Clean the tooth thoroughly and place in a zip-lock bag, wrap tooth in tissue paper or aluminum foil. Mail in a padded envelope with all relevant information (include a copy of your bear registration info) to: DNR Wildlife Research, Minnesota DNR, 1201 E. Highway 2, Grand Rapids, MN 55744. This type of envelope will require additional postage over a standard letter.

Nuisance bears

Nuisance bears may be taken by licensed hunters before the season in the area where the license is valid if authorized by a DNR Area Wildlife Manager or Conservation Officer. Nuisance bear harvested by authorized licensed hunters before the season must be registered and reported to the authorizing Area Wildlife Manager or Conservation Officer within 48 hours of harvest. Contact an Area Wildlife Office in the area you hunt, to be placed on an availability list if interested in hunting nuisance bears.

Bear guides

A person may not place bait or guide bear hunters for compensation without first obtaining a Bear Outfitters License ($82.50, resident only) or Master Bear Outfitters License ($165.00, resident only).

Portable stands in wildlife management areas

Prior to the opening day of the archery deer season, portable stands may be left overnight in a wildlife management area by a person with a valid bear license who is hunting within 100 yards of a bear bait site that is legally tagged and registered. The licensee's name and address or driver's license number must be affixed to the stand in such a manner that it can be read from the ground.

Cites export permits

International trade in black bear hides (pelts), claws, skulls or teeth is regulated by federal law and international treaty.

Off-Highway Vehicles (OHVs) including All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)

A person may not intentionally operate an off-highway vehicle:

  • In most wildlife management areas, a state park, or a scientific and natural area, except as specifically authorized by law or rule;
  • In unfrozen public waters (lakes, rivers, streams and certain wetlands), or in calcareous fens as identified by the commissioner;
  • On a trail on public land that is designated or signed for non-motorized use only;
  • On restricted areas within public lands that are posted or where gates or other clearly visible structures are placed to prevent unauthorized motorized vehicle access; or
  • Shoot at a wild animal from an OHV.

State forest hunting & trapping exceptions

Traveling off roads and trails (cross-country travel) in a LIMITED state forest or off roads, trails and access routes in a MANAGED state forest is prohibited except persons with a valid hunting, trapping or commercial trapping license in possession may use Class I ATVs to travel cross country to:

  • Retrieve big game (September through December)
  • Hunt for big game and construct stands (October through December)
  • Trap during the open season for protected furbearers
  • Trap for minnows under certain conditions
  • This does not apply to bear baiting

Other restrictions

White bears

Hunters may not take a white bear. A white bear was present in parts of Northern MN in 1998, and hunters in all areas should be aware of this regulation.

Cub bears

Cub bears may not be taken.

Dens

People may not take or disturb any bear in a den.

Dogs

Hunters may not take or attempt to take bears with the aid of dogs.

Archery-Firearms Restriction

Hunters may take bears by archery while in possession of a firearm.

Sale of meat, organs and parts

People may not sell meat or organs (including gall bladders) of a bear. May sell teeth, skulls, bones, hides or claws of a lawfully taken bear. May not sell bear paws unless attached to the hide.