With fall black bear hunting season underway, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is encouraging black bear hunters to watch an online video that will help in distinguishing between male and female black bears.

“It is often very difficult to determine the gender of a black bear,” says Robin Kepple, public information specialist in the Laramie Region. “And when the female quota is reached in a bear hunt area, the season closes for that area.”

There are several ways to help a hunter distinguish male and female black bears and to selectively hunt mature male bears. Tracks, differences in body size and shape, group size, and certain behavioral characteristics all provide evidence of sex. Adult male bears are usually larger than females. A large male bear often weighs between 200-250 pounds but they can grow to over 300 pounds. Adult females are typically 130 to 150 pounds.

Females appear smaller and leaner looking, appearing as long as they are tall, while mature males have more blocky and rectangular bodies. Because they are larger overall, adult male bears usually have larger feet than female bears. The front foot tracks offer the best clues as to whether the bear was male or female. Adult male tracks are usually wider than 4.5 inches, but females are usually less than 4.5 inches wide.

Size alone is not enough to determine if a bear is male or female. Hunters can learn more about distinguishing the sex of a black bear by watching the entire video.

The video and other black bear hunting information is available on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department website under Hunting—Black Bear. The Game and Fish reminds people that black bear gender cannot always be determined easily or with certainty while in the field.