Bear baiting begins in Pine County, hunting starts Sept. 1

Above is the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources bear hunting zone map for the 2020 season. 


Bear hunting season is fast approaching, and both bow and firearm hunters in Pine County have begun baiting in anticipation of the start of the season on Sept. 1

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources regulations state that hunters had to apply for a permit by May 1 for both firearm and bow hunting of bears. Bear baiting began on Aug. 14, while bear hunting season will run from Sept. 1 –Oct. 18. 

Nearly all of Pine County falls within a no-quota area, though Permit Area 51 covers the Nemadji State Forest in the northeastern part of the county, as well as much of Carlton and Aitkin counties. 

According to the DNR, a no-quota area outside of any bear permit areas is open only to bear hunters licensed under the no-quota licensing provision. A hunter with such a license is restricted to the no-quota area. 

The DNR notes that the no-quota area is almost all private land, and that hunters should find a place to hunt and obtain landowner permission to hunt before buying a license.

Preparations for bear hunting season was one of many activities keeping local DNR conservation officers on the move this past week.

• Conservation Officer Bret Grundmeier, working out of Hinckley, checked on the first bear-baiting activity of the season. Hot weather kept the baiting activity slower than normal but some hunters were still out placing bait in hopes of keeping a bear around for the hunting opener. Bear baiters also had to compete with field corn, which was in prime condition to draw bears. Most farmers in the area reported corn crop losses caused by black bears.

• Conservation Officer Ben Karon, working out of Pine City, spent time this past week checking anglers and boaters on area lakes and rivers, checking on hunters involved in bear baiting and conducted ATV patrols. 

• Conservation Officer Dustie Speldrich, working out of Willow River, handled several nuisance-bear complaints where crops were heavily damaged. Speldrich checked bear baits and answered several questions regarding bear hunting. Speldrich also took complaints on wetland and public waters and assisted the county on a suicidal person call.

Conservation Officer Dan Starr, working out of Onamia, worked on bear-baiting sites, ATV activity, and boating safety checks. Starr said enforcement action was taken for burning prohibited materials, along with riding on the bow of a boat at high speeds. Starr assisted with a water-skiing accident in which the injured person needed to be airlifted. A strong storm also called for action, as live power lines were down on public roads. State park campers were also checked on during the storm.

More information on bear hunting season is available at 888-MINNDNR (646-6367), at and at


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