AUGUSTA (AP) — A group that wants to ban bear hunting using bait, dogs and traps says it has submitted 78,528 signatures to the state.

Mainers for Fair Bear Hunting said the secretary of state needs to certify only 57,277 signatures to qualify for the ballot. It says signatures were collected from 417 communities.

Maine voters rejected a similar measure in 2004. Opponents of the referendum drive say bear baiting is an essential tool in controlling Maine’s bear population and ensuring the safety of Maine residents.

The secretary of state has a month to review and certify the signatures. Then legislature has the option of approving the proposal or referring it to the 2014 ballot.

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