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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Hunters in Maryland have shot 128 black bears this season.

The state said in a press release Friday that the numbers are preliminary. The hunting occurred in western Maryland despite heavy rains, reduced daylight and dropping temperatures.

Wildlife and Heritage Service Director Paul Peditto said the hunt is an essential management tool as the black bear population expands.

For just the second year, hunters were allowed to harvest bears in all four western counties: Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington.

Nearly 70 percent of the bears were killed on private lands. The average weight of each animal was 152 pounds.