AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine's bears have been snooping around barrels of bait for weeks now, and they're soon to find out how all that free food got there in the first place.

The state's annual black bear hunting seasons begins Monday. Most of the hunt takes place over bait, which hunters began setting on July 27 this year. Bait is usually human food, such as granola or doughnuts.

The portion of the hunt during which bait is legal runs until Sept. 21. It remains legal to hunt bears until Nov. 30, but the harvest slows down dramatically at the end of bait season. It's also legal to pursue bears with hunting dogs from Sept. 9 to Nov. 1.

The state's bear population is growing, causing some to call for new hunting laws.

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