Black Bear Hunting in Arizona
Hunting regulations – important information on rules, regulations and season dates for hunting black bears in Arizona
Black Bear Harvest Reporting
Call 800 970-BEAR (2327) to report your harvest, or report online here
Black bear season status – View female harvest limits and season closures
Black Bear Regulations
Tag Required: To hunt black bear in Arizona, you need a valid hunting license and a black bear tag. For most black bear hunts, a nonpermit-tag can be obtained from a license dealer. For some spring black bear hunts, a permit-tag is required. See the hunting regulations for more information regarding specific hunts and season dates. Apply online for a hunt.
Bag Limit: One black bear per calendar year.
Harvest Limits: When the number of female bears (sows) equaling the female harvest limit for a particular hunt has been reported, the unit will be closed at sundown the Wednesday immediately following. When the annual female harvest limit for a unit has been reported, the unit will close at sundown the following Wednesday and will be closed for the remainder of the year.
Before each hunting trip, make sure you verify that the unit is still open. View black bear female harvest limit information and unit status or call toll-free 1-800-970-2327.
Mandatory Reporting: Report your black bear harvest information to the Arizona Game and Fish Department in person or by telephone at 1-800-970-2327 within 48 hours of taking the black bear.
You will need to report the following information: hunter’s name, hunting license number, tag number, sex of the black bear taken, management unit where the black bear was taken, and telephone number at which the hunter can be reached to obtain additional information.
Mandatory Physical Inspection: Present the black bear’s skull and hide with attached proof of sex to a designated Arizona Game and Fish Department employee for inspection within 10 days of taking the black bear.
Preparing for the Physical Inspection
-Prop jaw open so that the tooth behind the upper canine can be pulled and aged.
-If the skull is frozen, it should be defrosted prior to presenting for inspection as a premolar tooth will be removed.
-If the hide is frozen, ensure that the attached proof of sex is accessible and identifiable.
-Successful hunters are encouraged to contact the nearest Department office by telephone to coordinate inspections.
Update May 6, 2020: Teeth were submitted in two batches for aging. Not all results are available. Results will be posted as they are received.
- 2019 AZ Bear Harvest Age Results PDF
Posted in spring of 2019 (2018 results will be the last season that we mail out postcards).
View age results of harvested black bears
Black Bear Sex Identification
Assess the body of the bear. If the body is large and round, it probably is a male. Black bear females are usually smaller and leaner than males. Adult female black bears (sows) in Arizona typically weigh up to 250 pounds while adult male black bears (boars) weigh up to 350 pounds. Standing on its hind feet, a male black bear can reach 7 feet tall. Males have large, boxier heads and larger shoulders. Bear tracks may also give an idea of the size of a bear, and therefore, sex of the bear. Unfortunately, due to overlap in sizes between young males and adult females, sex and age can be difficult to determine from tracks alone, but some general observations can be made. Both the length and width of adult male front feet typically measure 4 – 5 ½+ inches and females usually measure 3 ⅜ – 4 ¼ inches. Length and width of adult male hind feet typically measure 7 ⅜ – 9+ inches and 4 ⅛ – 5+ inches, respectively. Length and width of adult female hind feet usually measure 6 ⅛ – 7 ½ inches and 3 ⅜ – 4 inches, respectively. The presence of cubs or cub tracks would indicate that the adult bear is female. Mating season is late spring – early summer. 1-2 cubs are born during December-January. Cubs are born weighing ½ pound and almost naked. Cubs stay with their mother for 2 years.
Look at the face and head of the bear. If the ears seem to be large in proportion to the head, and the face seems narrow instead of round, it is likely a female. A male usually has a wider and rounder head, making its ears appear smaller in proportion to its head.
Observe the bear when it urinates. If the urine appears to come from underneath the bear’s belly, it is most likely a male. If the bear squats and/or the urine appears to come from its back end, it’s probably a female. A boar’s testicles may be visible if you have the right viewing angle, especially in spring. But in autumn when a bear’s winter coat is more lush and thick, it’s tougher to see genitalia.
The following link from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department offers good information on identifying the sex of bears in the field.