Find the answers to the frequently asked questions about hunting black bears in Vermont.

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What are the bear season dates and how do they overlap with deer rifle season?

Early bear season: Sept. 1-Nov. 10, 2017
Late bear season: Nov. 11-19, 2017
Rifle deer season: Nov. 11-26, 2017

Are there now two different bear tags?

Yes. There is a separate early season bear tag required for those hunters who want to hunt bear prior to the beginning of the November deer rifle season. It costs $5 for residents and $15 for nonresidents. Hunters will continue to get a late season bear tag along with their buck tag on their general hunting license at no additional cost, which is valid during the first nine days of the November deer rifle season.

Does this mean I can shoot two bears per year?

No. The current limit of one bear per calendar year remains the same. If a hunter harvests a bear during any part of the year, that hunter is done bear hunting for the year.

How much longer is the bear season extended?

The annual bear season is extended by four days. This increases the overlap of the bear and November deer rifle season from five to nine days to allow for the harvest of additional bears.

Do holders of permanent licenses (licenses for senior hunters) need to purchase the additional $5 early-season bear tag?

No.Hunters who hunt with a permanent license do not need to buy an early season bear tag no matter when their license was bought, and we will not charge these hunters for an early season bear tag. Their tag is valid for both early and late bear seasons every year in perpetuity.

What about lifetime license holders?

No. Hunters who purchased a lifetime license before January 1, 2013 also do not need to buy an early season bear tag. Their tag is valid for both early and late bear seasons every year in perpetuity. This includes hunters whose license was purchased before 2013 but whose license will not be activated until they take a hunter's education course, such as a license purchased for a young child. However, hunters who purchased a lifetime license on or after Jan. 1, 2013 must purchase an early season bear tag to hunt bear prior to the November deer rifle season.

What about five-year license holders?

Hunters who purchased a five-year license that is valid starting in the year 2013 will need to purchase an early season bear tag to hunt bear prior to the November deer rifle season, regardless of whether they purchased the tag before or during 2013. However, hunters who purchased a five-year license that was valid starting in 2012 do not need to purchase an early season bear tag to hunt bear during the early season for the five years that the tag is valid.

Why do we need an additional tag?

The bear license will enable the department to gather essential information about hunter effort and success, as well as an idea of overall bear hunter numbers. This information is important for obtaining best estimates of bear population trends.