CommunityThis Week in Fish and Wildlife


This Week in Fish and Wildlife: Guidelines for black bear hunting in Montana

Posted at 1:15 PM, Apr 18, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-18 15:54:08-04

Spring is here, and that means bears are out and looking for food. That also means for the next two months, hunters will be in the field looking for black bears. MTN's Chet Layman takes a look at some of the requirements that must be met to hunt black bears in Montana.

BOZEMAN — Hunting usually runs in the fall—but black bear hunters know now is the time for the spring black bear hunt.

“There's a few things that black bear hunters need to keep in mind that are unique to black bear hunting,” said Morgan Jacobsen with Montana FWP Region 3. “One is a mandatory harvest reporting requirement. So within 48 hours of harvesting a black bear, black bear hunters must call in to report their harvest.”

Also, for regions 2-7 in Montana, black bear hunters must take their carcass to an FWP office within 10 days of harvest. Biologist need to see it quickly and do a little dental work on it.

“Usually what happens is, a biologist will pull a tooth from that black bear to submit for some age testing. and that age testing helps us as we put together a picture of how the overall population is doing for black bears,” said Jacobsen.

Hunters in extreme-northwest Montana, Region 1, need to submit just the tooth (check the regulations for the proper process).

The big need for black bear hunters is the requirement they can recognize a black bear versus a grizzly bear; in fact, you have to pass an identification test to be licensed to hunt black bears.

“When you're in the field, that's a distinction that you have to be able to make every time. When you have a bear in your sights you need to know with absolute certainty if that's a black bear or a grizzly bear,” said Jacobsen, “so take extra time to learn that process and when you're in the field, make sure you're absolutely certain that what you're harvesting is a black bear. And if you have any doubt at all, just don't take the shot— wait for the next one and it'll save you a big headache.”

As a reminder, that big headache is a potential court appearance. Shooting a grizzly bear is currently illegal in Montana.