The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to help control the state’s growing black bear population by expanding the hunting season. Vermont’s black bear population, estimated at 6,000, has been growing at an annual rate of about 4 percent, and officials say that’s the upper limit of goals set in the state’s 10-year big game management plan. Beginning this fall, the regular bear hunting season will be extended an additional four days in the November deer rifle season. There will be no extra charge for the bear tag on a hunting license during deer rifle season. Hunters who want to hunt bear before rifle season must purchase an early-season bear tag for $5.