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For more information on
hunting, please contact the
WDFW Wildlife Program.
Phone: 360-902-2515




Bear Identification Program

If you plan to hunt bear in the following GMUs: 101, 105, 108, 111, 113, 117, 203, 204, 209, 215, 418, or 426 you must successfully complete the WDFW bear identification test or equivalent test from another state and carry proof of successful completion.

Washington is home to both grizzly bears and black bears. Grizzly bears are rare in Washington, but a small population exists in the Selkirk Mountains of northeast Washington, and their presence has been documented in the Okanogan Highlands and the North Cascades.

Black bear Grizzly bear
Can you tell which is a grizzly bear and which is a black bear?

Black bears are abundant in the west, northeast and the Blue Mountains in southeast Washington. Approximately 25,000 black bears are estimated to occur within Washington. They are a game species and are hunted annually. In any given year, approximately 29,000 hunters take about 1,300 black bears.

Grizzly/Black Bears in Washington by county

Grizzly bears are a federally threatened and state-listed endangered species. Killing one, either unintentionally or intentionally, can bring extremely costly fines and penalties. Just like with other similar looking game species such as elk, moose, caribou, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and others animal groups, Washington hunters are responsible for being able to tell the difference between black and grizzly bears. This knowledge and skill is critical in areas where the ranges of these two bear species overlap

More Bear Identification and Information Resources

Grizzly/Black Bear Identification Card
Living with Wildlife in Washington: Black Bears
Who's Who? Washington's Grizzly and Black Bears
Bear Awareness Campaign
Protect yourself!  Carry and use Bear Spray
Grizzly Bear Outreach Project
Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Videos

Grizzly Bear – Black Bear Identification
In areas where both black bears and grizzly bears occur, it is critical for black bear hunters to be able to distinguish between black and grizzly bears before shooting.  Grizzly bears are an endangered species, and killing one (inadvertently or intentionally) will result in extremely costly fines and penalties.  This video, produced by BeBearAware shows how to tell if a bear is a grizzly or a black bear.  Hunters are encourage to also take the bear identification course and quiz located above.


Hunting in Bear Country
Produced by the Center for Wildlife Information’s BeBearAware campaign ( , this 12-minute movie gives important advice for all users who recreate in areas where bears may occur.  How to tell the difference between the common black bear and the rare grizzly bear, proper food storage techniques near camps, how to recognize bear sign, likely places for bears to occur, and how to avoid encounters are all covered in this production. 



Bear Identification Test
The bear identification test has been approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission and is now available in the WILD system. Hunters must login with their username and password and click the "Mandatory Species Identification Tests" link.

Hunters who purchase their bear license and tag will need to take the test if they choose to hunt in the identified GMUs.

Black and Grizzly bear identification
Click image for enlargement

Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee logo. Text says 25 Years of Grizzly Bear Recovery.

Special thanks to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee for creating this bear identification program. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) was created in 1983 to lead the effort to recover the grizzly bear in the lower 48 states. In June 2008 the IGBC celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Living with Wildlife - Black Bears
Do's and Don'ts in Black Bear Country
Wild About Washington - July 2006: Living or traveling around bears
Dangerous Wildlife Complaints

Hunter’s Code of Conduct
The code emphasizes the need for hunters to show respect for wildlife and to be considerate of non-hunters.

GoHunt GoHunt!
Interactive mapping for hunting and recreational activities in Washington
Wildlife License Plates Wildlife License Plates
Help Support Wildlife Activities in Washington