Black bear hunters in Montana are now required to successfully complete a bear identification test in order to obtain a Montana black bear hunting license. The new identification program is intended to prevent mistaken killings of grizzly bears and to help Montana maintain its black bear hunting season, said Thomas Baumeister, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' hunter education program coordinator.
"The new mandatory bear identification program will help hunters learn to identify whether a bear is a black bear or a grizzly bear and then test their identification skills with a 15-question multiple choice test," Baumeister said.
The mandatory bear identification program will be available Jan. 15 on the FWP web site at: fwp.state.mt.us , or by picking up the mail-in test brochure at any FWP office or license agent. Hunters must have their mail-in tests postmarked by April 1 for the spring black bear season and August 15 for the fall black bear season to ensure enough time for processing. There is no fee for the test. Those who pass the mail-in or Internet test with a score of 80 percent or better receive a certificate of completion and qualify for a black bear hunting license. Hunters need to successfully pass the test only once, recertification in future years is not required.
"Educating hunters and minimizing mistaken identities is the right thing to do," Baumeister said. "This testing is a reasonable way to ensure black bear hunting in Montana continues and to support efforts underway to maintain Montana's grizzly bear population." Grizzly bears, a threatened species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, cannot be hunted in Montana. Licensed hunters may hunt black bear in Montana during a spring and fall hunting season.