Just in time for the start of this year’s bear hunt, bear hunters who voluntarily submitted a tooth from their bear in 2009 now can learn the age of the bear on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s website.

The web address is http://maine.gov/ifw/hunting_trapping/hunting/bear.htm .

The Department received bear teeth from 971 hunters, which equates to 27 percent of the hunters who harvested a bear in 2009. The oldest bear was a 25-year-old female, and the oldest male bear was 20 years old.

Like most hunted populations, older bears make up a smaller proportion of the harvest with just over one-third of the bears being three years old or older.

Knowing the age of the harvested bears provides a valuable tool for monitoring the health of Maine’s black bear population, thus determining the effectiveness of our management programs and contributing to a stable bear population.

The Department is continuing this research effort each year and is asking bear hunters to submit a tooth from the bear when it is registered. Each check station will provide instructions for submitting a tooth. At the end of the year, MDIF&W will receive teeth from the check stations and will send the teeth to the lab. The ages for bears harvested during the 2010 season should be posted on the Department’s website next fall.

Maine’s general black bear hunting season began Monday, Aug. 30 and runs through Nov. 27. The season for hunting black bears with dogs is Sept. 13-Oct. 29, and the season for hunting with bait is Aug. 30-Sept. 25. Hunters are asked to consult their hunting law books for additional season information or visit the Department’s website.

“The Department thanks bear hunters, hunting guides, and registrations stations for volunteering to assist in this valuable research tool, and we encourage all bear hunters to consider taking part in this endeavor in the future,” said Jennifer Vashon, MDIF&W black bear biologist.

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