AUGUSTA — Maine’s annual fall bear hunt is getting closer as hunters are now able to lay bait for the animals in the woods.

It became legal for hunters to set bait starting on Saturday. The hunting season in which it is legal to shoot bears over bait runs from Aug. 31 to Sept. 26.

The hunt continues until late November after the bait season is over, but the vast majority of Maine’s bear hunt takes place over bait. State wildlife officials have said the use of bait is necessary for a successful hunt, which is itself necessary to control the bear population.

Some animal welfare activists dispute that claim, and have tried to roll back the use of bait over the years.

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