Black bears and grizzly bears may live in the same area but differ in behavior, habitat preference, and diet. Black bears prefer the mixed habitats of lowlands, like those of the Tanana Flats. They thrive on berries, carrion, vegetation and other wildlife.
Black bears can vary in color from jet black to white. Black is the color encountered most frequently across the state, but brown or cinnamon-colored black bears are sometimes seen in Southcentral Alaska and on the southeastern mainland. Cinnamon-colored black bears are also common in Alaska’s Interior. Some bluish-colored bears called glacier bears may be found in the Yakutat area and in other parts of Southeast Alaska. Black bears often have brown muzzles and some also have a patch of white hair on their chest.
Black bears are opportunistic when it comes to food. However, they do follow certain predictable patterns. In the spring, freshly sprouted vegetation, including grass, horsetails, and poplar buds are an important food source for bears. Bears readily scavenge winter-killed animals, and in some areas black bears are effective predators on newborn moose calves. As summer progresses, feeding shifts to salmon if that resource is available. In areas without salmon, black bears feed primarily on vegetation throughout the year. Berries, especially blueberries, are an important late summer-fall food item. Ants, grubs, and other insects help to round out the black bear's diet. Male bears also prey on cubs.
Salvaging Hide, Skull, and Meat
In any unit in which sealing is required, from January 1-May 31 the hide, skull and meat of a black bear must be salvaged; from June 1–December 31 the hide and skull must be salvaged. In any unit in which sealing is not required, from January 1–May 31 the meat must be salvaged; from June 1-December 31 either the hide or the meat must be salvaged.
Meat of Interior black bear can be delicious and hunters are encouraged to salvage it as well. Bears, like pigs, can carry a parasite which can cause the dangerous disease of trichinosis. This parasite is killed by proper cooking (above 170° F internal temperature).
Hunters must leave evidence of sex (penis sheath or vulva) attatched to a black bear hide until the hide has been sealed. This is a legal requirement. This information is used in bear research and management.
Black bear taken from Units 1-7, 11-17 and 20 must be sealed within 30 days of the date of kill. Bring the hide and skinned out skull to ADF&G or a registered sealer to be examined and sealed. A small tooth (a premolar) will be pulled to obtain age information on your bear. At the time of sealing please make sure the skull is not frozen solid so the tooth can be pulled. If you are interested in learning how old your bear is, call ADF&G office in late winter and they can tell you. They will need your name, date of kill, and location of the kill.
Bait and Dogs
In some areas, black bears may be taken during a special spring season with the use of bait. Dogs may be used to hunt black bear by permit issued at the discretion of the ADF&G. Ask your Guide /Outfitter about this kind of hunting or contact ADF&G.
It is illegal to shoot cubs or a sow accompanied by cubs of either species. No part of a bear can be sold or purchased.
Sometimes people feel they have to shoot a bear that may be threatening life or property. Use your best judgment. If you do kill a bear in defense of life and property you must immediately bring the hide and skull to ADF&G for sealing and make a thorough report on why you killed the bear. If you take the bear with legal methods and means, have a valid hunting license and tags (if necessary) and the season is open, you can keep the bear. Otherwise, you will have to forfeit the bear. It is not legal to shoot a bear and claim defense of life and property if the bear is feeding on the carcass of a game animal that you have shot. The carcass is not considered property in this situation.
Hunting Tips - The Hunt
1.Select large/adult male black bears.
2.Be patient! Often many different bears will visit a single bait station. Adult males have larger home ranges and may take longer to find your bait. Females have smaller home ranges and may visit bait more often.
3.Avoid killing sows with cubs. Don’t shoot the moment you see a black bear! It is illegal to shoot sows with cubs. A sow with cubs frequently approachs bait without her cubs; she may stash cubs in a nearby tree while she enters the bait area.
4.Leave evidence of sex attached to your bear hide until sealing is complete. We look for evidence of sex on hides during sealing. You are required to leave the penis sheath or vaginal oriface on the hide until we seal the bear.
Black bears can look deceptively large. We recommend that you place a marked stake at your bait station to gauge the size of bears you see. Large adult male bears tend to be taller than 33 inches when standing on all 4 feet. Adult males have larger home ranges and may take longer to find your bait. Females have smaller home ranges and may visit bait more often.
Although it is legal to shoot a marked bear, we prefer that you do not shoot these bears because they provide us with valuable information about how frequently sows have cubs, what age the cubs disperse, and home ranges size. With patience, baiting can help maintain healthy bear populations and will provide you the opportunity to take a fine, trophy class Alaskan black bear.
The Trophy - Tips for selecting a large Adult / Male Black Bear
* Stocky legs
* Massive body with belly that hangs closer to ground
* Approach bait with more confidence
* Slower, more deliberate movements
* Large, rounded head (like basketball)
* Ears look smaller
* Thicker neck
* Large males taller than 33" at the shoulder
* Ears to nose an equilateral triangle
Hunting Tips - Shot placement
The objective of every conscientious hunter is to kill an animal as quickly as possible to avoid its suffering and to insure the highest quality meat. An animal that must be shot several times will have muscles flooded with lactic acid and adrenaline, resulting in poor tasting meat. Before a hunter takes a shot, it is his or her responsibility to be sure they can make a clean and accurate shot.
Alaskan game animals will quickly die when both lungs and/or heart are hit by a bullet or arrow. If you intend to hunt moose, brown bear, or bison in Alaska, use the most powerful rifle you can accurately shoot.
Heart & Double Lung Shot
The best shot placement is when the animal is broadside to the hunter or slightly facing away. A heart-lung shot from either position will likely puncture both lungs with the following advantages:
1.When an animal is hit in the heart/lung area, a quick death is certain because an animal cannot function with a loss of both lungs and heart. If the bullet exits, the animal will probably leave a visible blood trail.
2.The heart-lung area is likely to remain stationary. Because an animal’s head and neck frequently move it more difficult to accurately place a shot in those areas.
3.A heart-lung shot minimizes a loss of meat if the bullet enters and exits through the ribs.
Hunting tips - Where
Black Bears are found all througout Alaska - Southcentral Alaska and on the southeastern mainland - Alaska’s Interior - Yakutat and parts of Southeast Alaska.
Refer back to Alaska Hunting for the map of hunting units. Each unit will give specific information about the area, bag limits and more.
In Southeast Alaska, black bears occupy most islands with the exceptions of Admiralty, Baranof, Chichagof, and Kruzof; these are inhabited by brown bears. Both bear species occur on the southeastern mainland.
Black Bears are not found on the Seward Peninsula, on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, or north of the Brooks Range. They are also absent from some of the large islands of the Gulf of Alaska, notably Kodiak, Montague, Hinchinbrook and others, and from the Alaska Peninsula south of the Lake Iliamna area.
This is not a substitute for the Alaska Hunting Regulations. For more complete infomation read the regulations and the permit hunt supplements. They are available at Alaska Department of Fish & Game offices and establishments that sell hunting licenses and tags. Always Check the Alaska Hunting & Trapping Emergency Orders before planning to hunt an area or species as restrictions may apply. Click Here - For more information on hunting the Black Bear Click Here - For information on permits for Drawing hunts, Regrestration hunts, or General Season hunts
* Bows, Firearms, Cartridge, and Ammunition for Hunting Alaska:
The rifle you bring hunting should be one with which you are comfortable. many hunters have been convinced that a .300, .338, .375, or .416 magnum is needed for personal protection and to take large Alaska game. This is simply not true.
1.Rifle/handgun: State regulations require that rifles and handguns must fire a 200-grain or larger bullet, which retains at least 2000 foot-pounds of energy at 100 yards. A .30-06 with a 220-grain bullet is about the minimal weapon that meets this specification. Please do not bring your favorite firearm and expect to use it if it does not meet the above criteria.
2.Muzzleloader: Muzzle-loading rifles must be .54 caliber or larger, or at least .45 caliber with a 250-grain or larger elongated slug. Further, for safety reasons, those hunting with muzzleloaders must also have within easy reach a smokeless powder rifle meeting the centerfire rifle requirements listed above.
3.Bow: Longbows, recurve bows, or compound bows are permitted, but they must have a peak draw weight of 50 pounds or more. Arrows must be at least 20 inches in overall length, and tipped with unbarbed, fixed or replaceable-blade type broadheads. Arrow and broadhead together must weigh at least 300 grains total weight. As with hunters using muzzleloaders, ADF&G strongly recommends that bowhunters have a rifle close at hand.
* If you are planning on packing out moose meat, caribou meat, or a brown bear hide weighing hundreds of pounds, you can carry a 9- to 11-pound rifle including scope. A rifle of this weight in .300 or .338 magnum can be mastered with a lot of practice.
SUMMERY: You can’t go wrong with a stainless steel bolt-action rifle chambered for a standard cartridge that you are comfortable with and can shoot accurately, loaded with a high quality bullet.