Bear hunters worry 'animal rights extremists' will kill hunt

The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters says anti-hunting lobbyists could still scuttle the plan for the first spring bear hunt in Ontario in 15 years.

In a surprise announcement last fall, Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti announced the return of a "limited" spring bear hunt in May.

The cancellation of the hunt back in 1999 created a political problem every Ontario government since has had to deal with.

The upcoming hunt is a pilot project and will be limited to selected areas of the north.

But the province's largest outdoor lobby group is telling bear hunters to avoid complacency.

Terry Quinney of the Federation of Anglers and Hunters says public support of the hunt is vital.

"To ensure that, for example, those animal rights extremists who successfully lobbied a premier 15 years ago, don't do the same this time," he said.

Quinney is encouraging hunters to make their voice heard on the government's Environmental Bill of Rights Registry. He says strong support for the spring hunt will increase the chances it will be expanded in future years.

Mike McIntosh, campaigned to kill the hunt back in the 1990s, he previously told CBC News he is not impressed with the government plan for a new bear hunt.

"I don't think they're going to accomplish what they say they're going to accomplish," he said.

McIntosh runs a bear sanctuary near Sundridge and said hungry bears will still come into cities and towns, despite the reintroduction of the hunt.

"Hunting isn't going to change that," he said. "Bears are looking for food and, if people aren't careful, they're going to continue looking for food in urban areas."