How to apply for a bear hunting license


The Department of Natural Resources revised bear permit area boundaries in 1987 to allow for less restrictive taking of bear around the margins of their range. The number of bear hunters in this marginal area is not limited. As a result, bear season licensing consists of these types:

  1. Permit areas: A limited number of bear licenses will be issued through preference system drawings (see map).
  2. Permit area 451: Hunters do not need to apply in lottery drawing. An unlimited number of licenses will be sold over the counter starting at noon on Wednesday, Aug. 7. A hunter may not harvest an additional bear in permit area 451, which is considered a quota area.
  3. A no-quota area: That part of the state outside the permit areas. An unlimited number of licenses will be available. No application or drawing is required.
  4. Problem bear hunters: If you are interested in taking a problem bear, contact the appropriate area wildlife manager to be added to their list.

Season details

DatesSept. 1 - Oct. 13
LimitsOne adult bear per licensed hunter in quota areas
One adult bear per licensed hunter in no-quota areas
LicensesResident, age 18 and older: $45 (includes fee)
Non-resident, age 18 and older: $231 (includes fee)
Ages 13-17, regardless of residency: $6 (includes fee)
Ages 10-12, regardless of residency: $1 issuing fee
Application deadlineFriday, May 3
Methods of takingFirearm legal for big game
Bow and arrow legal for big game
PermitsAvailability by quota area

Caution on bear permit drawing

Any person making a faulty application will be disqualified from this drawing. Further, improper application may violate Minnesota Statutes and related rules, which would subject the applicant to prosecution for a misdemeanor.

No application for the drawing, application for the license or license shall be transferable to another person at any time for any reason.

Send no money: Applicants successful in the drawing will receive instructions for obtaining their bear license. Only applicants who are successful in the drawing will be notified. Successful applicants will be notified by June 1.

Application information & procedures

Areas open to hunting

Permit areas are open to hunters who have been issued a license through the preference drawing system. A hunter with such a license is restricted to the bear permit area for which his or her license is issued. Landowner permission is required for private agricultural or posted land.

No-quota area outside of any bear permit areas is open only to bear hunters licensed under the no-quota licensing provision. A hunter with such a license is restricted to the no-quota area. Note: The no-quota area is almost all private land. Hunters should find a place to hunt and obtain landowner permission to hunt before buying a license.

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Download: Main mapNortheast detail


Residents and non-residents must be at least 10 years of age or older to apply. All applicants born after Dec. 31, 1979, must have a valid firearms safety certificate prior to Oct. 15, 2023, unless they are a Minnesota resident ages 10 or 11 and have not had their big game hunting privilege suspended pursuant to M.S. Section 97A.421. Obtaining a no-quota bear license has no effect on eligibility or preference in the drawings for bear permit areas.

No-quota area licenses

No-quota area licenses are valid for hunting bears only in the no-quota area. When purchasing a no-quota area license, you will be asked which kill block (deer permit area) you intend to hunt in the no-quota area. This is for estimating hunting pressure and hunting success for the no-quota area. No application is necessary for no-quota licenses. These licenses will be available on July 1 from any license agent and the DNR license center in St. Paul.

Bear permit area licenses by drawings

Licenses are made available by a drawing that is based on a system of preference. A hunter's preference level is determined by the number of years he or she has submitted a valid but unsuccessful application since last receiving a license.

Applicants must supply one of these numbers for computerized identification:

  • A driver's license number or Minnesota identification card number (issued in lieu of a driver's license number by the Department of Public Safety and requires a minimum of 60 days to obtain)
  • Your Minnesota DNR customer number from your previously issued hunting or fishing license

Information supplied on the application will be matched against existing state records for validity and eligibility. Incomplete or otherwise invalid applications must be rejected. If your driver's license number has changed since you last applied, please contact the DNR. You will not gain a preference unless you apply using the same Minnesota DNR number that you used last time you applied.

A Minnesota resident who is currently serving or has served at any time during the past 24 months in active service as a member of the United States armed forces, including the National Guard or other military reserves, will be given first preference to qualified service members or veterans. After applying for lottery and before the drawing, all military applicants must complete and submit a preference to service members application.

How and where to apply
  • Visit any license agent, apply online or call 1-888-665-4236.
  • Application deadline is Friday, May 3.
  • The fee is $5. Additional convenience fees will be added if applying online or phone.
  • Residents: Provide your Minnesota driver's license or Minnesota state ID or if under 21 and no ID, provide your firearms safety number to any license agent before the application deadline.
  • Youth ages 10 and 11: If the child does not have a current license record, the license agent must create it or you can call the DNR license center at 888-646-6367 to have it created. Youth records should be created in advance to any deadline. Last minute issues may prevent youth from entering the lottery.
  • Non-residents: Apply by using their non-Minnesota driver's license or Minnesota DNR number.

The license agent will ask you this series of questions:

  1. Do you qualify for a Minnesota resident license? (present your Minnesota resident ID).
  2. Type of license applying for? (code 662 bear hunt application).
  3. The area you wish to apply for (12,13,14,22,24,25,27,28,31,41,45,46,47,51,99). Please check map for the correct number of the area you wish to hunt. Hunters who select area 99 will be unsuccessful in the lottery but accrue a preference point instead.
  4. Area 451: Do not apply in the lottery. An unlimited number of licenses will be sold over the counter starting Aug. 7.
  5. Area 99: Only choose number 99 if you wish to apply for preference only. You won't be eligible to be drawn for a permit but will accrue a preference point that will count in future years.
  6. You may apply for a second choice unless your first option is area 99. Second choice can be any area but area 99.
  7. If you are interested in taking a problem bear, contact the appropriate area wildlife manager to be added to their list.
  8. Group option: You may apply for bear permits individually or as a member of a group. A maximum of four people can be in a group. When applying as a group, either all valid members will be selected or none. All group members must apply for the same area.
    1. The first applicant of each group will create a new group in the license system and will receive a group ID number that is printed on the receipt. Other group members must use this number when applying.
    2. Other group members will ask the license agent to join an existing group and provide the group number.
    3. The member with the lowest preference determines the preference of the group.
  9. Immediately check your receipt to make sure the agent has entered your information correctly. This is the only time this information can be changed.
  10. For child support collection enforcement purposes, federal law requires the Minnesota DNR to collect your social security number when you apply for a game and fish license or lottery application.
  11. Your application will be automatically be entered into the preference drawing.
Additional information
  • Any person who makes a false statement on an application shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
  • Application deadline is Friday, May 3.
  • Successful applicants will be notified by June 1.
  • As in the past, preference will not be given for the current year if applicant is successful in the drawing (first or second choice) but does not purchase a license.
  • Bear lottery winners must purchase their licenses by Aug. 1. Unsold licenses will become available to any eligible person at noon on Aug. 6.

Customers are responsible for providing accurate and correct information to the license agent for the license, lottery application or permit they are requesting. The customer also is responsible for verifying that they have the correct license type, application or permit they requested and that their own customer information (address, zone, permit area, etc.) is correct prior to leaving the license agent.

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