PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The state with the largest population of black bears on the East Coast is putting off a plan to study how the consumption of human food affects the animals.

Maine’s home to more than 35,000 bears, and the population has been growing quickly over the past 15 years. The state issued a request for proposals earlier this year looking for a contractor to evaluate the role human food might have played in the growth of the population.

State documents say the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife has decided to cancel the request. The state could still revisit the question in the future.

The bears’ consumption of human food’s a big subject among hunters and conservationists because most bear hunters use human food as bait for the animals.

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