ORNEVILLE TOWNSHIP – Maine’s biologists are grappling with rapid growth in the bear population, and the state’s governor has joined them to learn more – and to sneak in a little snuggle time with cubs.

Maine has about 36,000 bears, up from just 23,000 less than 15 years ago.

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills accompanied Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists to rural Orneville Township on Monday for a check on a hibernating radio-collared mother bear.

Biologists have collared more than 80 female black bears, and they check on the animals to learn about production and survival of cubs. The Orneville bear has four cubs, two of which were orphans the state relocated. Mills managed to hold all four of the real-life teddy bears at once while the mama bear snoozed.

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