The start of bear season in Maine is an exciting time for hunters because it traditionally is the start of the fall hunting season.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife urges hunters to err on the side of caution as black bear hunting season opened the day after recent Tropical Storm Irene blasted through the state.

The general black bear hunting season runs through Saturday, Nov. 26. The season for hunting over bait runs through Saturday, Sept. 24 and the season for hunting with dogs is Sept. 12 through Oct. 28.

The immediate concern was the start of the season, in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. There were, at the time, widespread reports of road closures, particularly in the western parts of the state where bear hunting pressure is especially high.

“Always tell someone where you are going and when you are going to return,” said Lt. Kevin Adam of the Maine Warden Service. “Hunters may want to bring equipment such as chainsaws, ropes and equipment to get vehicles unstuck.”

“It’s also extremely important, with bridges washed out and water levels still in danger of rising, not to navigate waterways unless you are 100 percent sure you can cross them.”

For the first time, hunters are required to extract a tooth from their harvested bear and submit the tooth at the registration station. Each check station will provide hunters with instructions for submitting their bear’s tooth. At the end of the year, MDIF&W will receive these teeth from the check stations and will send a percentage of the teeth to the laboratory for aging.

The ages for bears harvested during the 2011 season will be posted on the department’s website next fall.

In 2010, nearly 700 bear teeth were voluntarily submitted by hunters. Like most bear populations, older bears make up a smaller proportion of the harvest with one-third of the bears being older than three years old. The majority of bears (78 percent) were between the ages of one and five years old.

“Knowing the age of the harvested bears provides a valuable tool for monitoring the health of Maine’s black bear population,” said MDIFW bear biologist Jen Vashon, “thus, determining the effectiveness of our management programs and contributing to a stable bear population.”

For more information on bear hunting in Maine, season dates, and other laws and regulations, go online at or the MDIFW Facebook page at

VillageSoup sports staff can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at