AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The busiest part of Maine's annual bear hunt starts Monday in forests around the state.

Maine's bear hunt lasts almost three months, but the busiest part is the section of the season in which it's legal to lure bears with bait. That starts Monday and lasts to Sept. 26.

The hunt lasts until Nov. 28, but slows down considerably when the baiting season is over. Maine officials have encouraged residents to participating in outdoor activities such as hunting this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They've asked hunters to practice social distancing precautions, which shouldn't be too hard in Maine's vast woods. Maine has a large and growing population of black bears, and state wildlife managers have said the hunt is necessary to keep it under control.