Bear Trapping

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Bear Trapping Permit

A bear trapping permit and a trapping license are required to set a trap for a bear during the annual bear trapping season (September 1 - October 31). You are allowed to take one bear by trapping and one bear by hunting annually (see Bear Hunting). The fee for a bear trapping permit is $27 for residents and $67 for nonresidents and aliens.

All trapping licenses are issued from the MDIFW office in Augusta and cannot be purchased online.

Bear Trapping Laws

If you trap for black bear, you are required to follow the same general trapping rules regarding the labeling of traps, the tending of traps, and the need to obtain landowner permission.

If you trap a bear, you are required to follow the same transportation and registration rules as those for bear taken by hunting (see Tagging, Transportation & Registration).

You are also required to follow other rules specific to bear trapping, as follows:

  • You are not allowed to have more than one trap set for bear at any time.
  • All bear traps must be tended at least once a day.
  • You are not allowed to catch a bear in a trap and allow another person to kill or register the bear.
  • You cannot continue to trap for bear after you have already killed or registered one in a trap.
  • Bears caught in traps must be killed or released and not moved away from the catch site. A bear caught in a trap may not be used in conjunction with a hunt or to train a dog for bear hunting.
  • The same rules apply to hunting and trapping for bear with the use of bait. (See rules about the use of bear baits).
  • You may not trap within 500 yards of a solid waste disposal site. These areas can be identified by a visible line of demarcation. Exception: an agent of the commissioner is exempt for the purpose of live trapping of nuisance bear.

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Design & Deployment Standards

New Bear Trapping Rules

These new rules were developed to improve design and deployment standards for cable traps (foot-restraints) used to capture and harvest black bears, while minimizing incidental capture of non-targets, including the Federally Threatened Canada lynx. Most importantly, the new rules will ensure that cable traps are set in a manner to effectively capture and hold a black bear by the foot or leg and minimize the risk of injury.

VIDEO: Understand Maine's New Bear Trapping Regulations

Cable Traps

Design Standards for All Cable Traps Used to Capture Black Bears Whenever a cable trap is used to trap for bear:

  • The cable must have a minimum closing diameter of not less than 2-1/2 inches
  • The cable must be at least 3/16 inches in diameter
  • The cable must include at least one swivel, which is typically located between the foot loop and the anchor point

Deployment Standards for ALL Cable Traps Used to Capture Black Bears

  • The cable must be set at or below ground level in such a manner as to catch the animal only by the foot or leg.
  • Drags are prohibited.
  • The cable must be securely attached to a fixed anchor point.
  • If a tree is used as an anchor, it must be at least 6 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet above ground level and must be free of limbs for at least 7 feet above the ground.
  • The catch circle, which is the distance from the anchor to the end of the closed cable loop, must be no greater than 8 feet.
  • The area within the catch circle must be clear of woody vegetation, debris and manmade material that could cause entanglement of a trapped bear. This restriction does not include a tree used as an anchor. Sticks and rocks, and rotten/decaying woody material may be used for stepping guides, blocking, and backing for trap sets, if they are not rooted to the ground.

Bucket, Tube or Pipe-style Traps

Design Standards for Bucket, Tube or Pipe-style Traps Used to Capture Black Bears

Whenever a cable trap is used in conjunction with a device that is designed to capture a bear when it reaches into the device to obtain bait (e.g. bucket, tube, or pipe-style traps):

  • The trigger must be recessed at least 12 inches below the opening of the device.
  • The opening and inside diameter of the device must be no more than 6 inches.
  • A bucket or other similar device can be used if it is modified to have an opening and inside diameter no greater than 6 inches.

Deployment Standards for Bucket, Tube or Pipe-style Traps Used to Capture Black Bears

  • Animal-based bait and/or lure cannot be placed within the bucket, tube or pipe. Animal-based bait is defined as animal matter including meat, skin, bones, feathers, hair or any other solid substance that used to be part of an animal. This includes live or dead fish.
  • The opening to the device must be covered by a weight of at least 30 pounds when set, placed, and tended to prevent access by non-target species.

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Legal and Illegal Devices



The Unmodified M-15 trap is illegal in Maine.



The M-15 trap is legal if it is modified to an opening and inside diameter no greater than 6"and if the trigger is recessed at least 12" below the opening of the device; and is set.

Cut a 6" diameter hole in the lid.

Insert a tube with an inside diameter no greater than 6" and is at least 12" tall to allow the trigger to be set 12" below the opening, then place the tube in the bucket and secure the lid.

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Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Program

The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, commonly known as the Pittman- Robertson (PR) Act, established a "User Pay/User Benefit" philosophy for funding state wildlife resource restoration and conservation efforts. These funds have played a vital role in the Maine's wildlife management capabilities since they were first used in 1939.

Revenues collected from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, pistols, revolvers, bows and arrows are deposited in the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Fund, and used to support wildlife population assessments, long-range species management planning, development of management recommendations, implementation of management programs, acquisition and management of wildlife habitat, and hunter education.

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