FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Humane Society of the United States is objecting to a proposal that would expand bear hunting in Kentucky because the group says the population is still too small.

But state wildlife officials say the number of bears in Kentucky has grown and the population can withstand increased hunting. The Humane Society says the bear population needs more time.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the state’s population is about 350 bears.

Last year, 21 bears were killed during the hunting season. Under the proposed changes, the state would permit 35 bears or up to 20 female bears to be killed during the season.

Bears returned to Kentucky in the 1990s after the population was virtually eliminated through hunting and habitat destruction by the early 1900s.

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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com