PORTLAND (AP) — Maine’s bear-hunting season is getting underway Monday.

Jennifer Vashon, a state bear biologist, said hunting is the primary tool for controlling the population of bears, which has grown 30 percent since 2004 to more than 30,000.

Maine’s bear population is one of the largest in the country, and Maine offers a three-month season. Last year, more than 10,000 hunters purchased permits, with 3,207 bears killed.

A coalition called Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting wants to limit the types of hunting for bear. It’s collecting signatures for a referendum aimed at banning the use of bait, traps and dogs to hunt bears.

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