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Bear Hunting In Montana

Hunting Methods  Fair Chase

Montana Announces No Grizzly Bear Hunt For 2018. However, the black bear hunt continues.


When Did Bear Hunting Start In Montana?

In 1921 - Montana's game commission was granted the power to open and close bear hunting seasons. During this time, the commission banned the use of dogs to hunt bears.


In 1923 - Black bears were listed as big game animals.


In 1947 - The hunting of mother bears with cubs or cubs was prohibited.


In 1948 - Bait used to hunt bears was outlawed.


From 1959 - 1971, black bear hunting was open from mid-March to the end of November.


In 1961 - black bear hunting was offered to non-resident hunters.

Initially, hunters were allowed to kill one grizzly bear and one black bear.


In 1967 - Officials changed the rules allowing a hunter to kill only one bear of either species.


In 1985 - MFWP began officially recording the number of bears killed per season.


In the mid-1980s, wildlife biologists expressed concern with the overhunting of black bears. They addressed the issue by mandating that hunters be required to check in their kills.

Has The Bear Hunt Ever Been Stopped?

In 1991 - The Fund for Animals filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, arguing that the USFWS did not have an accurate population count. Begging the question, how can you allow the hunting of bears when you do not know how many there are?


U.S. District Judge Michael Boudin ruled in favor of the Fund For Animals and denied the government from authorizing a trophy hunt of grizzly bears in northwestern Montana.


In July 2017 -  The federal government removed protections of an estimated 700 Grizzlies that call Yellowstone their home. The removal of these protections gave authority to State wildlife agencies in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, which allows each of these States to dictate how they “manage” Grizzlies.


On February 9, 2018, the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks announced they would not be approving a hunting season for grizzly bears this year. Black bear hunting season remains active.

When Is Bear Hunting Season?

In Montana, the first part of the black bear hunting season begins April 15th and ends June 15th. The hunt resumes in the Fall during archery season, which starts on the first Saturday in September and ends September 14th. After the archery segment ends, black bear hunting continues until the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

What weapons are permitted in bear hunting?

Firearms, including rifles, handguns, shotguns with 0, 00, or slugs, and muzzleloaders; archery equipment; and crossbows are permitted in the hunting of black bears.

Prohibited: All weapons other than the ones listed above are not permitted.


Can Hunters Kill Cubs?

No. Killing cubs or female bears with cubs is illegal.

However, either sex may be killed as long as cubs are not present.

Note: Bear cubs are classified as bears less than a year old.


Can Hunters Kill Bears Over Bait?

It is illegal to use bait or any scent that may attract bears.

Is Dog Hunting Permitted In Montana?

No. It is illegal to use dogs to hunt bears.


What Is The Hunting Quota?

The black bear hunting quota for 2018 is not posted at this time.

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

Yes. Currently, there are 28 BMUs in Montana.


What Procedure Must Hunters Follow After They Kill A Bear?

Bear hunters have up to 10 days to present Montana FWP officials with the whole bear hide with proof of sex remaining, as well as the bear's skull.


What Is Their Reasoning For Hunting Bears?

  • Population Control

  • Provide hunting opportunities

  • Bear-Human Conflict


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

Montana Fish Wildlife, and Parks (FWP).


When Does The FWP Hold Their Meetings?

Yes, FWP holds several meetings throughout the year.


For a list of dates and times, please see link:


Are The Meetings Open To The Public?

FWP meetings are open to the public.

Who Has The Power To Stop The Hunt?

Governor Steve Bullock


Groups That Oppose Bear Hunting

Be Bear Aware -

The Fund For Animals -


Hunt Clubs and Organizations That Participate In And Fund Bear Hunting

Yellowstone Country Bear Hunters Association -

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers: -



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