AUGUSTA – Maine election officials say supporters of a proposal to end bear baiting have surpassed the threshold necessary to put the initiative on the fall ballot.

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Wednesday that 63,626 valid signatures were submitted, or 6,349 signatures more than required.

The initiative seeks to prohibit the use of bait, dogs or traps when hunting bears “except under certain circumstances.”

The Maine Legislature now has the option of adopting the proposal as written. If not, then the measure will appear on the November ballot.

Maine voters rejected a similar measure 10 years ago. 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.

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