Maine’s black bear hounding season is set to begin nine weeks before a referendum that could ban the hunting of bears with dogs.

The state’s bear hounding season runs from Monday to Oct. 31. Hunting bears with dogs is one of three methods voters could ban in a November vote. The other two are trapping and hunting with bait.

Opponents of bear hounding say it is cruel and unsporting. Many hunting groups and outfitters oppose the ban because they say it will hurt tourism.

The general bear hunting season and the bait hunting season began Aug. 25. Baiting ends Sept. 20. The general season ends Nov. 29. Trapping began Sept. 1 and ends Oct. 31. Hunters can take two bears during the year, one by hunting and one by trapping.

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