For Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Resources latest COVID-19 updates click here.

2020 Black Bear Season - FAQ

2020 Black Bear Season - FAQ

What is the statewide bag limit for bears?

The annual bag limit is one (1) bear per person per year, regardless of season.

Can I chase bears with dogs during any open bear season?

No. Bears may only be chased during the Chase-Only Season and during the Bear Hunt with Dogs season. 

Can I chase bears on public land?

Yes. In any bear zone, a dog can be used to chase a bear on public hunting areas or on private land with permission of the landowner except the chase-only and quota hunt with dogs seasons are closed in McCreary County, the Daniel Boone National Forest, Miller-Welch Central Kentucky WMA, Beaver Creek WMA, Cane Creek WMA, Mill Creek WMA, Pioneer Weapons WMA and Redbird WMA.

The chase-only season will not open on Wildlife Management Areas until the third Saturday in August due to leash law restrictions designed to protect young wildlife during the summer months.

Bear hunting zone map: http://fw.ky.gov/More/Pages/Game-Maps.aspx.

What permits are necessary to chase bears with dogs during the bear chase season?

Unless license-exempt, a person must possess an Annual Hunting License and a Bear Chase Permit ($30) or Junior Bear Chase Permit ($10).

Can I purchase a Bear Chase Permit at Wal-Mart or other store?

No. Bear Chase Permits and Youth Bear Chase Permits are only available for purchase on the KDFWR website. 

When can I purchase a Bear Chase Permit or Youth Bear Chase Permit?

Bear Chase Permits are available for purchase during the entire license year.

Can I field dress or quarter my bear before taking it to a check station?

Yes. To check a legal bear, the hunter must present an intact hide that contains the skull and proof of sex, at a minimum. 

Is there an individual quota for each of the bear seasons?

Yes.  Each bear zone has a specific quota for each season.  Seasons and quotas vary by zone.  View black bear hunting seasons and quotas here.

Is there a quota on male bears?

No. Starting in the 2019 season, the seasons will close based on the number of female bears harvested only. Hunters may still only take one bear per year, regardless of the sex of the bear. The removal of the male bear quota will allow hunters to harvest more male bears while still protecting females and ensuring a sustainable harvest level.

Why was Bear Zone 1 removed?

The counties of McCreary, Wayne, Bell, Harlan and Letcher are each their own zone with separate quotas. Bear Zone 1 of past seasons has been divided up by individual counties. This will allow for more bears to be harvested in this area and help spread the harvest out evenly in these border counties.

How do I check a bear after I harvest it?

Successful hunters must first telecheck the bear by 8 p.m. on the day of the harvest, and then call the KDFWR at 800-858-1549 within 24 hours of harvest to arrange for KDFWR personnel to attach a metal kill tag and inspect the carcass.  There will be no permanent check stations. Instead, the successful hunter and biologist will decide on a place to meet.

Traveling hunters should try to make contact with a biologist prior to leaving the bear hunting zone and returning home.  

Can I use a crossbow during the modern firearm Season for bears?

Yes. Firearms, crossbows and archery equipment are legal weapons during the modern firearm season.

Is there a lottery for the modern firearm season for bears, like the elk hunt?

No. Bear permits ($30), Youth Bear Permits ($10), and Non-resident Bear Permits ($250) are available over the counter from all license vendors.  Unless license exempt, all persons hunting bears must have a Bear Permit in addition to an Annual Hunting License.

Is a Bear Permit included with the purchase of a Sportsman’s License?

No.

Is a Bear Permit included with the purchase of my Senor/Disabled Hunting License?

No.

Are non-residents hunters allowed to bear hunt in Kentucky?

Yes.  Non-resident hunters may take part in the archery or firearms seasons. Non-resident hunters may not take part in the chase-only or quota hunt with dogs seasons.

Where can I hunt bears during the modern firearm season for bears?

The modern firearms season for bears is open in all bear zones.

Bear hunting zone map:  http://fw.ky.gov/More/Pages/Game-Maps.aspx.

Are all public lands in the Bear Zone open to bear hunting during the archery/crossbow and gun seasons?

No. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and Hensley-Pine Mountain Wildlife Management Area are each closed to all bear hunting. Only portions of wildlife management areas within the Bear Zone are open to bear hunting.

Bear hunting zone map:  http://fw.ky.gov/More/Pages/Game-Maps.aspx​.

Why is Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA closed to bear hunting?

Almost a decade of research has shown that this WMA on Pine Mountain serves as an important denning area for female bears. Currently, bear hunting is being prohibited in this immediate area to protect reproducing females while denning with young.

I own property on Pine Mountain adjacent to Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA.  Can I legally hunt my property for bears?

Yes. In 2019, the restricted area around Hensley-Pine Mountain WMA was removed.

Can I hunt bears in Kingdome Come State Park?

No.

Can I hunt bears on public land in McCreary County?

Yes. Public land restrictions were removed in McCreary County for the 2019 season. Archery and Modern Gun season are open on any public land in McCreary County except for the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, which is a bear sanctuary closed to hunting. Additionally, no chase or bear hunting with dogs is allowed in McCreary County.

What happens if hunters kill more than the bear quota?

It is possible for the bear quota to be exceeded. All hunters are guaranteed the ability to hunt the entire first day of the hunt during legal hunting hours. 

If the bear quota is exceeded on the first day, no hunters will be penalized for exceeding the quota on opening day. In that case, however, the season will then be closed after legal shooting hours. The same scenario applies for each day of an open season where a bear quota exists.

If I am bear hunting, how will I know if the bear season has closed?

Hunters must check to see if the bear season is open by calling the KDFWR at 1-800-858-1549 after 9 p.m. on each day of an open bear season. Each bear zone has its own quota and can be shut down when its quota has been met.

What weapons can I use to hunt bears?

Archery/Crossbow season: archery equipment and crossbows only.

Modern firearm season: archery, crossbow or firearms.  Muzzleloader firearms must be at least .50 caliber and modern firearms must be at least .270 caliber to hunt bears.

Bear quota hunt with dogs: archery, crossbow or firearms. Muzzleloader firearms must be at least .50 caliber and modern firearms must be at least .270 caliber to hunt bears. 

Do I have to wear hunter orange during the modern firearm and quota hunt with dogs seasons for bears?

Yes. Because this season is open to firearms, all hunters must wear hunter orange visible from all sides on the head, back and chest.

Do I have to wear hunter orange during the archery/crossbow season for bears?

Yes and no. The bear hunt with dogs season may overlap with the archery/crossbow season for bears. If the quota has not been met for the bear hunt with dogs season, then hunter orange must be worn. If the quota has been met and the bear hunt with dogs season has been closed, then hunter orange is not required.

Is baiting legal for hunting bears?

No. The intentional or unintentional feeding of black bears is illegal in Kentucky and that includes during the hunting season.

Are scents intended to attract bears legal for hunting bears?

No.  Any substance capable of luring a bear is considered bait and the area where it is used is considered a baited area.

Can I hunt bears that are visiting garbage cans or open dumpsters?

No. Garbage cans and open dumpsters are classified as baiting and hunting over or near these attractants are illegal.

Are there weight restrictions on bears that can be killed?

Yes. Hunters cannot kill bears less than seventy-five (75) pounds. This restriction will protect bears of the year and smaller females.

Is it legal to shoot a female bear with young?

No. It is illegal for hunters to harvest a female bear with any young.  In nearly all cases in the fall of the year, a group of bears will actually be a female with her young.  Other age groups of bears do not interact or travel in groups.

May I harass a bear out of its den for the purpose of killing it during a hunting season?

No. It is illegal for anyone to disturb or harass a bear from its den. This includes during all bear hunting seasons.

Can dogs be used to hunt bears?

Unleashed dogs can be used only during the chase-only and bear quota hunt with dogs seasons. Leashed tracking dogs may be used to recover wounded bears during any open bear season on public or private lands. Any dog used for hunting bears must be on the department-approved breed list.


What permits are necessary to participate in the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs?

Unless license-exempt, all hunt party members must possess an Annual Hunting License, Bear Chase Permit, and Bear Permit in order to participate.  Youth hunters must have a Youth Hunting Permit, Youth Chase Permit, and Youth Bear Permit to participate.

Can my hunt party chase a bear from a den?

No. It is illegal to harass or disturb bears in den sites for the purpose of chase or harvest.

If I harvest a bear during the Bear Quota Hunt with Dogs, must I take it to a check station?


No. Successful hunters must first telecheck the bear, then call the KDFWR at 800-858-1549 within 24 hours of harvest to arrange for KDFWR personnel to attach a metal kill tag and inspect the carcass. The Department no longer has permanent check stations. Instead, the successful hunter and biologist will decide on a place to meet. 


​​​​