Montana spring bear hunting season open April 15

Montana’s spring black bear hunting season opens April 15 and it’s important for hunters to refresh themselves on tips for identifying the difference between black bears and grizzly bears.

All black bear hunters are reminded that they must successfully complete Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ bear identification test before purchasing a black bear license.

Take the bear identification test online at; click the Education tab, then click “Bear Identification Program.” Complete the training and test, and then present the printed on-line certificate to purchase a license. The training and test can also be obtained on paper, with a mail-in answer card, at FWP regional offices.

The 2019 black bear regulations are available online on the FWP website at , at FWP region offices and license providers.

Spring black bear hunters should purchase their license by April 14. Black bear hunting licenses purchased after April 14 may not be used until 24 hours after purchase. Black bear hunters are limited to one black bear license a year.

Regulation change

This year’s regulations include an important change. While successful black bear hunters must present a complete hide and skull to FWP within 10 days of harvest, including evidence of sex, evidence of sex is not required to be naturally attached. This is a change from previous years.

The print version of the regulations contains an error and still reads that evidence of sex must be naturally attached to the hide when presenting it to FWP (pg.4).

In general, evidence of sex is not required to remain naturally attached to big game animals. However, it is required to accompany the animals from the field to the point of processing.

Bear safety and awareness

Hunters are reminded that it is unlawful to harvest bear cubs (bears under one year of age), and females with cubs. Remember, if you’re unsure of whether the bear is grizzly or black, male or female, take the extra time to observe the animal before attempting to harvest.

FWP encourages residents to “Be Bear Aware” and remove attractants every spring. Residents are asked to remove or secure food attractants such as garbage and bird feeders and bird seed. Chicken and livestock should be properly secured with electric fencing or inside a closed shed with a door.

Visit for tips and tools on using bear spray, safe recreating and access to bear-resistant products.

Whether you’re bear hunting, shed hunting, hiking, camping or mountain biking, here are some tips to stay safe in bear country:

Always carry bear spray and know how to use it.

Never approach a bear. Respect its space and move away.

Travel in groups of three or more people whenever possible and plan to be out only in the daylight hours.

Make your presence known by talking or other means, especially when near streams or in thick forest where visibility is low. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.

Don’t approach a bear; respect their space and move off.
Remember, female bears are very protective of new cubs.

When camping, always secure food attractants, whether it’s in a bear-safe container or by hanging all food, trash and other odorous items well away from camp and at least 10 feet above ground and 4 feet from any vertical support. Keep a clean camp at all times. Never cook or eat in your tent.

When hunting, immediately field dress the animal and move the carcass at least 100 yards from the gut pile.

When mountain biking, slow speeds around sharp corners and in densely forested areas.