Maine’s season for hunting bears with bait is coming to a close about six weeks before a state-wide referendum that could end the hunting method.

Bear baiting season began Aug. 25 and ends on Saturday. Baiting is by far the most practiced method of bear hunting in the state. Bait is typically sugary, high-calorie human food such as doughnuts.

A November referendum asks residents if they want to ban hunting bears with bait, dogs, and traps. So-called fair-chase bear hunting will remain legal if voters approve the referendum. Hunting with dogs or traps ends on Oct. 31, while the general bear hunting season ends on Nov. 29.

Supporters of the ban say the hunting methods are cruel. Opponents say they are necessary to manage Maine’s bear population.

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