Can I Shoot a Bear on My Property? (Only If This Happens)

Can I shoot a Bear on My Property

Encountering a bear on your property can be a frightening experience, especially if you have pets or livestock that roam freely. You may be tempted to shoot the bear but you need to first know if you can legally shoot a bear on your property. 

Shooting a bear on your property is only allowed if you’re acting in self-defense. You may also shoot a bear on your property if you have a special permit that allows you to shoot bears that are threatening your crops or livestock. It’s always a good idea to check your local laws on this.

However, there are other circumstances in which this is allowed, which is why we have outlined everything you need to know. Bear in mind that each state has different laws and you should always check with your state’s laws before making any decisions. 

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

If you are dealing with unwanted bears visiting your property, you may be tempted to shoot at them.

However, shooting a bear, even in self-defense, can be difficult to justify in the eyes of the law. Instead of shooting at a bear, you should use bear spray.

Here are some of our favorites from Amazon:

1. Udap Bear Spray – Perfect for quick use thanks to its included holster

2. Counter Assault Bear Spray – Great two-pack with different sizes for different situations

The Legalities of Shooting a Bear

Let’s dive into some of the common laws regarding bears. Black bears are the most common bears in North America, so many of these laws pertain to them.

Keep in mind that these laws will vary depending on which state you live in. 

Is It Legal to Shoot a Bear in Your Yard?

You are allowed to legally shoot a bear in your yard if it is in self-defense. Or, if your property is exceptionally large and you have the proper bear hunting licenses and permits.

Bears populate 27 states in the United States and their mischief can sometimes be frightening.

If you encounter a bear in your backyard, but do not have a hunting license, you are still allowed to shoot the bear if you are under direct threat.

Other circumstances where it is okay to shoot a bear in your yard (must include all):

  • You have an exceptionally large property
  • You have a bear hunting permit
  • You have a hunting license
  • It is bear hunting season

Can You Shoot a Bear in Self-Defense?

You can absolutely shoot a bear in self-defense. Bears are very capable of killing a human given their large size. However, they only end up killing around three people a year in Canada and the United States.

If the bear is on your property and you feel as though you are in immediate danger, you are allowed to shoot the bear. But, be very careful, shooting it may aggravate it even more. 

You should leave the scene as soon as it is safe then report the incident to your local hunting authorities. 

Is Killing a Grizzly Bear Illegal?

Grizzly bears are considered an endangered and threatened species and are therefore illegal to kill in all states except Alaska and the Yukon, in Canada. In other cases, you can only kill a grizzly bear in self-defense.

But, if you kill a grizzly bear in self-defense, you better be prepared to prove that you were actually being threatened – not just scared – and weren’t killing the bear just for fun.

If you don’t have enough proof, you could face a fine and jail time

You might also enjoy our post on If it is Illegal to Shoot Your Own Dog

Can You Get In Trouble for Shooting a Bear?

If you shoot a bear in self-defense and are not able to provide valid proof that you were acting in self-defense, you could get into trouble with the law.

You could also get in trouble if you kill a bear out of bear hunting season. The state of Virginia states that any person who kills or attempts to kill a bear illegally will be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor.

What Is the Fine for Shooting a Bear?

The fine for shooting a bear will depend on what type of bear you killed and under what circumstances. For killing a grizzly bear, you can get fined up to $50,000 and one year in prison, like this man from Idaho.

For killing a bear out of season, you will likely be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor. This includes a fine of up to $2500 and up to 6 months in jail. 

If you are hunting in Canada, you may get charged even more. This man was fined $7,500 for killing a black bear on cultivated land without permission.

He was also banned from hunting for two years. 

Where Can I Hunt Grizzly Bears?

Since grizzly bears are an endangered and threatened species, they are only allowed to be hunted in Alaska, in the United States, and Yukon, in Canada.

Hunting season for grizzly bears, in Alaska, is held in both the spring and the fall in some areas. But only the fall in other areas. Hunters are not allowed to kill cubs and females with offspring.

If you kill a grizzly bear illegally, you can face steep fines and possible jail time. 

Where Is It Legal to Kill Bears?

You can kill bears in 27 states in America but the places are North Carolina, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 

However, you must have all legal requirements before you kill a bear such as a hunting license, bear hunting permit, firearms license, and you must only hunt during the state’s specific hunting season. 

Can You Shoot Bears in California?

Bear hunting is allowed in California, mainly in the northern area. You are legally allowed to shoot a bear if you are acting in self-defense or if the bear is injuring livestock.

California has some of the strictest hunting laws in the United States, in efforts to protect the abundance of wildlife that live there- because who wouldn’t want to live in California? 

You can only shoot a bear if you are acting in self-defense and can provide valid proof that you were in immediate danger.

Shooting a bear because you were scared as it was going through your trash, is not a good enough reason.

For landowners of crops and livestock who are experiencing bears disturbing the livestock or destroying the crops, they can apply for a depredation permit.

This permit allows them to shoot a bear any time of the year.

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Shoot Squirrels in Your Backyard

Is It Legal to Shoot a Bear on Your Property in Florida?

Bears are protected by law in Florida so it is illegal to shoot a bear on your property. To shoot a bear legally, you have to have been issued a Florida Wildlife Conservation hunting or depredation permit. 

Or, you must be acting in self-defense. But, it is recommended to use bear spray as an alternative to shooting the bear if you are being threatened.

Bear spray is extremely effective and can be used at a distance of 20-30 feet.

Can You Shoot a Bear on Your Property in New York?

You are legally allowed to shoot a bear on your property in New York as long as you hold the proper hunting and bear hunting licenses, and there is no other property within 500 feet.

You also have to ensure that it is bear hunting season.

The only other way you would be allowed to shoot a bear on your property is if it is in self-defense- but you have to provide ample evidence that you were in immediate danger. 

How to Deal With Bears in Your Presence 

Now that we have determined when and where it is legal to shoot a bear, let’s look into what you should do when approached by a bear.

What Do You Do With a Bear in Your Backyard?

If you spot a bear in your backyard, the best thing you can do is make lots of noise and yell at the bear. This will let the bear know your home is not a place for them to hang around.

To make the most effective noise, grab some pots and pans and bang them together from an open window. This will discourage the bear from continuing to explore your property and will likely leave. 

Once the bear leaves, look around your yard and try to determine what the bear is attracted to. Spray some bear deterrent on any vegetation or trees to deter the bear in the future. 

What to Do if You Meet a Black Bear?

If you meet a black bear in the wilderness, you should try to remain as calm as possible and start backing up slowly, regardless if the bear has seen you or not. Never turn your back on a bear.

Do not make direct eye contact with the bear- they will see this as a challenge. Ensure that the bear has enough space to get away and you are blocking their access to food or to their cubs. 

If the bear approaches you, do not run! Use your bear spray, play dead, or use anything else to fight the bear including rocks, sticks, or hiking poles. 

Are Black Bears Friendly?

Black bears are known as one of the more friendly bears in the United States. They are also smaller in size which makes them less threatening to humans. 

Black bears are typically only defensive if you catch the bear off guard or are threatening their cubs. Additionally, some cubs that are more accustomed to humans may become too bold and act aggressively. 

You might also enjoy our post on If it is Illegal to Shoot Birds in Your Backyard

Which Bear Will Eat You?

Although very rare, grizzly bears and brown bears have eaten people before. In most cases, though, these are not predatory attacks and only acts of self-defense if the bear is startled or feels their cubs are threatened.

As mentioned, it is very rare for a bear to eat a human, even if the human is available to eat.

For example, in New Jersey, a lady and her dog were approached by a bear, the lady fell down, and the bear only sniffed her and continued walking. 

Where Do You Shoot a Bear When Attacked?

You should only shoot a bear as a last resort when you are being attacked. If you shoot a bear and kill it, you may have a hard time proving that you were in immediate danger and may get charged for unlawfully killing the bear.

Your best defense is bear spray as this will greatly deter the bear from continuing to attack you. If you shoot at the bear and miss, you are increasing your chances of the bear getting more aggressive. 

Can I Shoot a Bear if It Attacks My Dogs?

Shooting a bear to protect your dog is illegal in most states. If you know there are bears in your area, you should not let your dog out unattended and should implement measures to prevent the bear from visiting.

As a responsible dog owner, you should have your dog’s safety in mind at all times. Do not take your dog for walks in areas where you know bears live or visit.

If you know bears are visiting your home, do not let your dog roam free.

Will a Bear Return After Being Shot At?

It is not likely that a bear will return after you shoot at it. The bear will either get more aggressive or run away scared. However, if the bear has something enticing enough to return to, it might return. 

This is why it’s important to bear-proof your property if you are dealing with constant bear visitors. And, keep in mind, shooting at a bear is not the first option you should take if you encounter one. 

You can scare a bear away with loud noises or simply back away from the bear slowly and leave the scene as soon as you can. 

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Shoot a Bow in Your Backyard

How to Prevent Bears From Entering Your Property

The best way to avoid bears is to prevent them from being attracted to your yard in the first place.

You should set up prevention methods so you never even have to think about injuring a bear- although, you should always be prepared. 

How Do I Bear-Proof My Backyard?

The best way to bear-proof your yard is to manage anything that is attracting the bears and prevent bears from accessing human food. 

Bears are mainly attracted to human food. So, making sure your garbage is secured is the first step you need to take. Also, remove any bird-feeders you might have which are also a large attraction for bears. 

What Smells Do Bears Hate?

Despite the fact that most bears live in the forest, they actually dislike the scent of anything pine-related. Pine-based cleaners have been known to deter plenty of bears.

Deterring bears with scents is as easy as leaving large bottles of Pine-Sol around your yard and house. Bears will detest the smell so much that they will think twice about coming around your property again.

Is Bear Spray Better Than a Gun?

It is more humane to use bear spray compared to a gun. Additionally, it is also more effective. Bears are known to retract as soon as they are sprayed with bear spray and may become more aggressive if they are shot at.

If you live in an area with a lot of bears or you are going hunting, it is always wise to have bear spray on you.

Bear spray can shoot 20-30 feet and is known to be more effective to scare away bears as opposed to shooting at them. 

You might also enjoy our post on Can I Shoot a Deer on My Property?

Related Questions

How Do You Defend Yourself Against Wild Animals?

The most important thing to remember when approached by a wild animal is to remain calm. Although, easier said than done. However, most wild animals are not looking to attack you and only will if they feel threatened. 

If you panic, the wild animal will instantly feel your fear and will think they have something to be scared of, as well. You should try to remain calm, do not stare at the animal, and back up slowly.

This will show the animal that you are not a threat and should ease the situation.

Can You Kill a Bear With a Slingshot?

It is not likely that you will kill a bear with a slingshot, even modern-day hunting ones. Bears are too large for the hit to cause death. Instead, it will likely just aggravate the bear. 

Slingshots are mainly used to hunt smaller animals, such as squirrels and rabbits. However, you can use a slingshot to scare a bear, by aiming the shot at some nearby trees to create a ruffling noise. 

Final Thoughts 

Now that we have determined the legalities behind shooting a bear and examined other methods to scare them off, hopefully, you will be able to make the right decision when it comes to dealing with bears on your property. 

If you are dealing with bears that are visiting your property, you should refrain from using a gun until it is your last resort.

Guns are obviously dangerous and may injure something else when you are trying to shoot the bear. Use deterrents or loud noises before aiming your gun at them. 

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