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Bear Hunting In Massachusetts

Hunting Method - Fair Chase

Black bears in Massachusetts were abundant from the 1800s to the early 1900s, but there were no laws to protect bears and prevent people from killing them, which pushed bears to the brink of extinction. Their population was decimated by hunting and habitat loss. Up until 1952, a black bear could be killed by anyone at any time in the State.


When Did Bear Hunting Start In Massachusetts?

Black bear hunting seasons and regulations went into effect in 1952.

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

The State is broken down into 14 Wildlife Management Zones (WMVs) all of which are open to bear hunting.

When Is Bear Hunting Season?

  • First Season: Sept. 8-Sept. 26

  • Second Season: Nov. 2-Nov. 21

  • Shotgun Season: Nov. 30-Dec. 12

What Weapons Are Permitted?

Archery: Bows with a minimum draw weight of 40lbs at 28 inches or at peak draw; Arrows must be broadhead blade not less than 7/8 inches in width; Expanding broadheads; Mechanical bows are not prohibited: Crossbows may only be used by certain permanently disabled persons and by permit only.

Firearms: Rifles .23 caliber or larger; Shotguns no larger than 10 gauge, including shotguns with a rifled bore and only using slugs; .357 Magnum revolvers using only .357 Magnum cartridges; Revolvers of .40 caliber or larger.


Muzzleloaders: Any Muzzleloading firearm .44 to .775 caliber that is fired from the shoulder and use a single projectile.

Note: Shotguns are only allowed during the Shotgun Season.

Can Hunters Kill Cubs?

Yes. The State does not give any restrictions on what size or age a bear can be killed. That includes nursing mothers and cubs.

Can Hunters Kill A Bear Over Bait?

No. The use of bait is not permitted. This includes any scents or lures.

Is Dog Hunting Permitted In Massachusetts?

No. Hunting with dogs is not permitted.

What Procedure Must Hunters Follow After They Kill A Bear?

After killing a bear, hunters must immediately fill out and attach the "harvest tag" found on the bear permit to the carcass. The bear must remain intact (other than field dressing), with the harvest tag attached, until it is reported and prepared for food or taxidermy. Hunters have 48 hours after harvesting to report their bear either online or at a check station. A confirmation number will be issued if reporting online and must be written on the harvest tag. If the bear is reported at a check station, a metal seal will be attached to the carcass. Either the seal or the harvest tag must be attached to the bear until it is processed. When transporting the bear, a portion of the carcass must be visible until reported.

What Is Their Reasoning For Hunting Bears?

  • Regulating bear population

  • Controlling nuisance problems

  • Recreational opportunity for sportsmen and women

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

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, otherwise known as MassWildlife

When Does MassWildlife Hold Their Meetings?

MassWildlife holds meetings monthly. Dates, times and locations of their meetings can be found here -

Are The Meetings Open To The Public?

Yes, meetings are open to the public. Anyone wanting to speak or be on the agenda must notify the board two weeks prior to the meeting. Dates, times and locations of their meetings can be found here-

Who Has The Power To Stop The Hunt?

The Governor and Massachusetts's elected General Assembly Members have the authority to introduce and vote on proposed law changes. 


Joseph S. Larson, Ph.D., Chairman of MassWildlife

Hunt Clubs And Organizations That Participate In And Fund Bear Hunting.

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife -

Eagle Adventures, LLC -

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