SPRING HUNTING IN MAINE
Bear Hunting Magazine|January - February 2021
In 1982 Maine closed its spring season, but you can still spring hunt with an outfitter on some tribal lands.
Al Raychard



Maine has not held a statewide spring bear season for over 40 years. That’s an interesting footnote considering between 1770 and 1957, bears in the Pine Tree State were considered pests with no closed season and were not established as a game animal until 1969. Everything changed after that, but the biggest change came in 1982 when Maine cancelled its spring season. I remember it well. I had been bear hunting on my own and a few times with guides for several years by then and for several reasons preferred hunting the spring season over the fall.

Few hunters understood the biologics and management goals of the state back then, so the closure was controversial to say the least. Most resident bear hunters and non-residents who came to Maine to partake of the only spring season east of the Mississippi spring season saw the closure as nothing more than a loss of a hunting opportunity, while bear guides and outfitters saw a fair percentage of their annual income disappear. Maine started monitoring bear harvests in 1969, and by the early 1980s harvests had exceeded goals set by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Rumor had it that the closure was due in part to the killing of too many sows, which if continued unchecked had the potential of reducing the bear population, reported at around 18,000 at the time.

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