Black Bear Hunting Season Officially Kicks Off in Massachusetts: What to Know

by Courtney Blackann

It’s time to pull out the hunting gear! As fall hunting seasons begin, families everywhere are gearing up to take part in the traditional pastime. In Massachusetts, black bear season officially kicked off Tuesday. But before you go, there are a few things you should know.

First, every hunter has to have a hunting license. This means going through a hunter’s safety course for first-timers. A bear permit is also acceptable. While the season is broken into three parts over the year, this is the first phase of the season.

Additionally, this year, you can use a rifle, handgun, muzzleloader or a bow and arrow to hunt your game. Each hunter can hunt a limit of one black bear per season.

It’s also a good idea to refresh your safety practices and make sure you’re adequately prepared for hunting the large game. Otherwise, get out and make those memories! Good luck, hunters!

Black Bear Hunting Canceled in New Jersey

While the season is in full swing in New England, other parts of the states will not permit black bear hunting this year. New Jersey canceled its 2021 bear season, officials announced earlier this summer.

The call was made after a sufficient bear management policy expired in July. This is the first time in 10 years the Garden State won’t have a bear season.

“No black bear hunt may occur without a properly-promulgated (Comprehensive Black Bear Management Policy) proposed by the New Jersey Fish and Game Council and approved by the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection,” a post concerning the matter stated.

While New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned on banning bear hunts – and accomplished this somewhat in a 2018 decision to ban hunting on public land – the state’s bear population is continuing to grow.

Forty years ago, that wasn’t the case. Only about 100 black bears roamed the state in the 1970s. By the mid-2000s, the population increased to around 3,000 black bears. The thriving population meant hunting was a go. And in 2010, bear hunting was back – helping to control the population by removing about 400 bears a year.

With the state being rather densely populated, a large black bear presence means more interaction with humans. And bear/human interactions are usually fairly dangerous.

Today it’s estimated their population in the state is about 2,500.

Between the Unites States and Canada, the black bear population is estimated at 750,000. They range in size at anywhere from four to seven feet. Black bears also live as far south as Florida and as far north as Alaska and Canada. The animals can weigh anywhere between 125 and 500 pounds. They have an active breeding season between May and early July.