As of 5:20AM this morning the bear hunting season opened in Maine.

Maine’s bear population is one of the largest in the country and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife says since 2004, Maine’s bear population has increased by over 30% and is estimated at more than 30,000 animals.

Bear/human conflicts have also increased in frequency in the past ten years, with the department responding to an average of 500 nuisance bear calls a year.

“Hunting is the Department’s primary tool for managing this thriving bear population,” says Jennifer Vashon, one of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s bear biologists. “To manage Maine’s bear population at levels desired by a diverse public, Maine allows bear hunters to use several traditional methods over a three-month fall hunting season.”

Last season over 10,000 hunters purchased bear hunting permits and 3,207 bears were killed.

Successful bear hunters are reminded that it is mandatory to submit a tooth from their bear when registering. Tagging agents will provide envelopes and instructions to hunters as to how to remove the tooth. Biologists age the tooth, and the biological data collected help biologists adjust season lengths and bag limits for bears.

The bear season is carefully regulated.

Maine Game Wardens will be patrolling the woods of Maine ensuring that bait areas, hunting stands and blinds are labeled properly, and they will be enforcing all other laws pertaining to the hunting of bears.