Basics of black bears and bear hunting

Posted: Sunday, June 09, 2002

Rules and other information about bear hunting include:

• Bear hunting is legal almost year-round, from Sept. 1 to June 30, but most bears are hunted in estuaries in the spring when they come down to feed on sedges.

Alaska residents can take two bears and nonresidents can take one bear. Resident hunters do not need a tag to hunt black bears.

• There are some restrictions on hunting near Juneau. Hunting is not permitted in the area between the coast and 1/4 mile inland from the end of Thane Road to mile 24 at Peterson Creek, or on Douglas Island in the area between the coast and 1/4 mile inland between the town of Douglas and Mile 7 of the North Douglas Highway. Hunting is permitted along the coast past mile 24 Glacier Highway (Petersen Creek) and past mile 7 North Douglas Highway. Hunting is closed within 1/4 mile of Mendenhall Lake. Bear hunting is not permitted in the Mendenhall Wetlands. Hunting is not permitted within 1/4 mile of any public road or the Eaglecrest ski lifts.

License and other information is available online at or call (800) 478-2376.

• In many areas of Alaska, people hunt by drawing bears to a baiting station, often using doughnuts or bacon grease for bait. It's not legal to bait here, but is allowed on Prince of Wales Island and in the Haines area.

"We have the communities of Juneau and Gustavus (in this unit)" game biologist Neil Barten said. "We don't want to encourage bears to eat garbage. We don't want bears to be trained to come in to certain areas and get food."

Most people hunt bears on beaches and baiting isn't really necessary, Barten said.

• If bear season is open 10 months, why not just open it year round? Barten said one reason is the difficulty of successfully salvaging meat in the hot, buggy summer weather. Females also are out with young cubs in the summer, and it can be difficult in the lush summer vegetation to tell if a sow has cubs with her. It is not permitted to take a sow with cubs, or to take a cub, a bear in the first year of life.

Bears breed in late June and early July. Females give birth during the winter in their dens and generally emerge in the spring a little later than the males.

If the meat and the hide are best in the spring, why would anyone hunt in the fall? Nizich said for some hunters, that's when they have the time. Bears can also be relatively easy to hunt in the fall by walking the salmon streams where they fish.

• Hunters who wish to save the hide for a rug or mount can contact a taxidermist or Fish and Game for skinning techniques. (Look for Pamphlet ADF&G Hunter Information Series III-15, Skinning a Bear).

After skinning, the hide should be brought directly to a taxidermist or put in the freezer right away. Otherwise, remove as much fat and flesh from the hide as possible and salt it heavily, especially around the face and paws, as the hair slips most easily here. About 20 pounds of salt is recommended for an average black bear hide.

Never store or transport an hide in a plastic bag, as this makes the hair slip. Use burlap or game bags and store in a cool, dry place.

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