The black bear population is seen as healthy as hunting seasons draw close in northern New England. In Maine, where the general season begins Monday, game officials predict a successful one for many hunters due to poor natural food levels that have brought many bears foraging out in the open. That increases chances for hunters who use bait. Maine has the largest black bear population in the East, estimated 25,000 to 30,000, the largest in six decades. In neighboring New Hampshire, where the season starts Sept. 1, game officials say the bear population appears relatively stable at an estimated 4,800 animals. Vermont’s season also starts Sept. 1. The bear population is estimated at 4,500 and 6,000, with the highest numbers of bears in the center spine of the Green Mountains.