Machias Lake, ME (NEWS CENTER)-- Maine has more bear than any other state east of the Rockies. That's in part because of the oldest continuous bear study in the United States.
Since it began in 1975, more than three thousand bears have been captured and tracked.
"I consider it an honor," says Randy Cross. He's a Wildlife Biologist for the State of Maine and considered one of the most experienced and well-trained bear handlers in the country.
Maine maintained its bear hunting tradition in 2004 when voters stopped a referendum which would have eliminated most hunting methods and almost all trapping.
The study traps bears using cables. Biologists then anesthetize the bears. While the bears are out, biologists collect age, sex, weight and health statistics.
Maine has thirty thousand bears. According to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, they would like to have hunters take between 3500 and 4500 each year. Because of a decline in bear hunting since 2004, the average has dropped to 2910.
The result is an increase in nuisance bears. There were 850 bear complaints last year.
In May, the Humane Society of the United States announced its intention to bring another referendum to the voters in 2014.