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Bear Hunting In Maryland

Hunting Methods - Fair Chase Only - Tracking Dogs Allowed

In 1953, there were only 12 bears left in the entire state.

When Did Bear Hunting Start In Maryland?

October 25th, 2004, Maryland DNR conducted Maryland’s first black bear hunting season in 51 years. In 2014, DNR eliminated the quota system that had been used to manage black bear hunting since 2004. Instead, a four-day hunting season was established with 450 bear hunting permits issued. In 2016, the hunt area was expanded to include Washington and Frederick Counties, and the number of permits issued was raised to 750. 

Has The Bear Hunt Ever Been Stopped?

The hunt has been ongoing since 2004.

When Is Bear Hunting Season?

October 26th - 30th

What Weapons Are Permitted?

Muzzleloading rifles must be at least .40 caliber in size and must use 60 grains of black powder or more and propel one all-lead, lead alloy or copper soft-nosed or expanding bullet or ball at a single discharge.


Shotgun: Shotguns used for bear hunting must be 28 gauge or larger.
Shotguns must be at least .40 caliber in size and must use 60 grains of black powder or more (a black powder equivalent is acceptable) and propel one all-lead, lead alloy or copper soft-nosed or expanding bullet or ball at a single discharge. Shotgun ammunition used for bear hunting must shoot a single solid projectile.


Handgun: Handguns used for bear hunting must have a barrel length of six (6) inches or more and use ammunition, which produces a muzzle energy of 700 foot-pounds or more. 

Rifle; Breech-loading rifles used for bear hunting must use ammunition developing a muzzle energy of at least 1,200 foot-pounds. Consult ammunition guides for ballistics information.

Vertical Bow: Vertical Bow must have a full draw and a pull of 30 pounds or more. Draw locking devices are legal on vertical bows used to hunt bears. Vertical bow release aids may be used.


Crossbow: All Crossbows must have a working safety with a draw of 75 pounds or more. 

Air Gun; Airguns must shoot one .40 caliber or larger bullet or ball at a single discharge which generates at least 400 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, or shoot an arrow or bolt at least 18” in length with a minimum speed of 300 feet per second at release with a sharpened broadhead with metal points and a minimum width of 7/8 inch.


Prohibited: Poisoned or explosive tipped arrows. 

It is illegal to shoot on, from, or across any public road.

Illegal to hunt, trap, or shoot at wildlife within 150 yards of an occupied building or camp without permission of the owner or occupant. For archery hunters, this distance is 50 yards in Frederick County.
Note: Children can hunt unsupervised, and there are no requirements for knowing how to use a hunting weapon. Telescopic, holographic, and laser sights can be used on any permitted weapons while bear hunting.

Can Hunters Kill Cubs? 

Yes, any sex or size black bear is legal to shoot.
Hunters may not chase or disturb any bear that has taken refuge in a den, but with little or no supervision from wildlife enforcement.

Can Hunters Kill A Bear Over Bait? 

Bait, scent attractants, and electronic calls are prohibited. Any potential bait must be removed at least ten days before bear hunting.

Note: Baiting for deer or bear changes the behavior of bears and leads to food conditioning and habituation to humans. Artificial feeding contributes to potential conflicts and property damage, alterations in bear behavior and foraging habits, increased or sustained reproductive rate, physical size, distribution, and numbers. Read the full report by Thomas Eveland/Animal Protection League of New Jersey:

Is Dog Hunting Permitted In Maryland?

Hunting with dogs is prohibited. However, trained tracking dogs may be used to find a dead or wounded bear. Handlers must maintain physical control of the tracking dogs at all times, and only the hunter may carry a firearm, air gun, or bow while tracking the bear. Landowner permission must be obtained.

What Is The Hunting Quota?

Hunters and hunting teams may only kill one black bear per season.

Is The State Broken Down Into BMUs (Bear management units)?

Maryland has Bear Areas, which include the following counties, Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, and Washington.

What Procedure Must Hunters Follow After They Kill A Bear?

The bear must be taken to an official bear checking station within 24 hours.
Hunters are required to attach a field tag to the black bear they killed before moving the carcass. The field tag must have the hunter’s contact information, as well as the date, time, and county in which the bear was killed. The head and hide of the black bear must remain together, and proof of sex shall remain attached to one hindquarter. The field tag will be exchanged for a black bear possession tag. 

What Is Their Reasoning For Hunting Bears?

  • Population Control

What Is The Government Organization(s), That Is In Charge Of Bear Hunting/Wildlife?

Maryland DNR (Department of Natural Resources) -

When Does The DNR Hold Their Meetings?

Meetings are held monthly.

Are The Meetings Open To The Public?

The public is welcome to attend these meetings.

Who Has The Power To Stop The Hunt?

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

Groups That Oppose Bear Hunting

The Humane Society Of The U.S -

Hunt Clubs and Organizations That Participate In And Fund Bear Hunting

Maryland Sportsman Association -
Maryland Bowhunters Society -
Maryland Sportsman’s Legislative Caucus -    

Helpful links

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