Black bears and grizzly bears may live in the same area but differ in behavior, habitat preference, and diet. Black bears prefer the mixed habitats of lowlands, like those of the Tanana Flats. They thrive on berries, carrion, vegetation and other wildlife. Grizzly bears generally live in high country above timberline where they dig for roots and ground squirrels, eat berries, and actively hunt caribou and other wildlife.
Brown and grizzly bears are the same species. The smaller, inland brown bears are often called grizzlies. The bigger coastal bears are called brown bears and the extremely large brown bears on Kodiak Island are often referred to as Kodiak bears. Hunting regulations for grizzly, brown, and Kodiak bears are listed in the regulations booklet under the heading “Bear, Brown/Grizzly.”
Licenses, Harvest Ticket/Report Cards, Tags, Guides, and Permits
Several brown and grizzly bear hunts are conducted as drawing or registration permit hunts. Check the permit hunt newspapers and the regulations booklet carefully for information about permit hunts and to make sure you are hunting in an area that is open to you.
Resident hunters must have a $25 brown/grizzly bear tag to take a grizzly bear in most areas of the state. No tag is required in 19D, 25D, parts of 13 and 20D, or in the three subsistence brown bear management areas.
Bag Limits and Seasons
Black bears are more plentiful and reproduce at a higher rate than brown bears so black bear seasons are much more liberal. In most Interior units, each hunter may take three black bears each regulatory year and there is no closed hunting season.
A hunter can legally shoot only one brown/grizzly bear every four years, except in Units 6 (except 6D), 12, 19D, 20E, 25D, and portions of 13 and 20D where it is legal to harvest a grizzly bear every year. The season is more liberal in these areas because bears are limiting the growth of local moose or caribou populations. A grizzly bear harvested in Units 19D and 25D does count against the one bear every four year restriction. Harvesting a brown bear in the remaining one every year areas fills your bag limit for the regulatory year (July 1–June 30), but does not count against the one every four years limit imposed in other Units. That means you can shoot one grizzly in Units 6 (except 6D), 12, portions of 13, 20E, or northeastern 20D for three consecutive years until you are eligible to hunt in a “one bear every four years area” again. However, remember you may not take more than one brown/grizzly bear per regulatory year.
Hunters may not take any bear cubs or sows with cubs. For this regulation, a black bear cub is defined as a black bear in its first year of life while a grizzly bear cub is defined as a grizzly in its first or second year of life.
Salvaging Hide, Skull, and Meat
In any unit in which sealing is required, from January 1-May 31 the hide, skull and meat of a black bear must be salvaged; from June 1–December 31 the hide and skull must be salvaged. In any unit in which sealing is not required, from January 1–May 31 the meat must be salvaged; from June 1-December 31 either the hide or the meat must be salvaged. You are required to salvage both the hide and skull of a grizzly bear killed anywhere in Alaska, except in the subsistence brown bear management areas where you are required to salvage all meat for human consumption. Meat of Interior black and grizzly bears can be delicious and hunters are encouraged to salvage it as well. Bears, like pigs, can carry a parasite which can cause the dangerous disease of trichinosis. This parasite is killed by proper cooking (above 170° F internal temperature).
Hunters must leave evidence of sex (penis sheath or vulva) attatched to a black or brown/grizzly hide until the hide has been sealed. This is a legal requirement. This information is used in bear research and management.
Black bear taken from Units 1-7, 11-17 and 20 must be sealed within 30 days of the date of kill. Grizzlies from any location in Alaska also must be sealed within 30 days of the date of kill. Bring the hide and skinned out skull to ADF&G or a registered sealer to be examined and sealed. A small tooth (a premolar) will be pulled to obtain age information on your bear. At the time of sealing please make sure the skull is not frozen solid so the tooth can be pulled. If you are interested in learning how old your bear is, call our office in late winter and we can tell you. We will need your name, date of kill, and location of the kill.
Grizzly bears taken in Units 6 (except 6D), 8, 12, 19D, 20D, 20E, or 25D must be sealed before being taken from the unit where it was killed. Exceptions include grizzly bears taken in Unit 20E and northeast 20D must be sealed in that unit or in Tok, and brown bears taken in 6A, B, C must be sealed in that unit or in Yakutat. These sealing requirements give us good information about the bear harvest in these units and help enforcement officers know the bears were actually taken in these units.
Bait and Dogs
In some areas, black bears may be taken during a special spring season with the use of bait. Refer to the regulations booklet and our other information on bear baiting for specifics.
Dogs may be used to hunt black bear by permit issued at the discretion of the ADF&G. Contact your area biologist for further details.
It is illegal to shoot cubs or a sow accompanied by cubs of either species. It is illegal to hunt or kill a brown/grizzly bear within one half mile of a garbage dump or land fill. No part of a bear can be sold or purchased.
Sometimes people feel they have to shoot a bear that may be threatening life or property. Use your best judgment. If you do kill a bear in defense of life and property you must immediately bring the hide and skull to ADF&G for sealing and make a thorough report on why you killed the bear. If you take the bear with legal methods and means, have a valid hunting license and tags (if necessary) and the season is open, you can keep the bear. Otherwise, you will have to forfeit the bear. It is not legal to shoot a bear and claim defense of life and property if the bear is feeding on the carcass of a game animal that you have shot. The carcass is not considered property in this situation. Read the regulations for more details on this before you go hunting.
Taking Your Grizzly Bear Hide Out of Alaska
A raw (unprocessed) bear hide shipped out of Alaska to another state needs an export tag which can be obtained from any ADF&G office, post office or commercial shipper. If you plan to take your bear hide out of the United States, you need to obtain a federal CITES permit from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Law Enforcement. In Fairbanks, call them at 456-0255 or visit their office at 1412 Airport Way.
License, Tag, and Guide Requirements for Hunting Brown/Grizzly Bears
|Big Game Tags||Yes4||Yes4||Yes3,4||Yes||Yes||Yes3|
1 For the purpose of hunting, a resident is someone who has lived in the state for the 365 days prior to buying a license. Check the regulations for more complete information about residency.
2 A free identification card may take the place of a hunting license and is issued at ADF&G offices.
3 Military personnel may hunt big game on military property without a state hunting license or big game tag, but should contact the base Wildlife Conservation Officer about any special military requirements. Nonresident military personnel may purchase big game tags at half price for hunting off military land.
4 For Brown/Grizzly bear only, except in subsistence management areas and certain areas in the interior. See the regulations booklet.