PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says last year was slightly worse than average for the entanglement of large whales, which is a major threat to the animals' populations.

The NOAA released a report on the subject of whale entanglement Thursday. The agency says the number of cases nationally was 76, and 70 of the entanglements involved live animals, while the rest were dead. The 10-year average is closer to 70 entanglements.

The agency says about 70 percent of the confirmed entanglement cases were attributable to fishing gear, such as traps, nets and fishing line.

The NOAA says the entanglements happened along all U.S. coasts except for the Gulf of Mexico. Entanglement's a major concern for jeopardized species such as the North Atlantic right whale, which number only about 440.