Two animal protection groups have launched a hotline for people to report orphaned bear cubs in the wake of the Ontario's revived spring bear hunt.

Zoocheck Canada and Animal Alliance of Canada say the Bear Cub Rescue Hotline will allow hunters and others to call in and leave information about any orphaned cubs.

The groups say they don't believe most hunters would intentionally orphan cubs but it does happen, and they want to rescue the animals by getting them to wildlife rehabilitation centres and then returning them to the wild.

Last week, an Ontario judge dismissed an application for a judicial review by the two groups, which was an attempt to stop the spring bear hunt from going forward.

The groups had argued mother bears will be killed and their orphaned cubs left to starve or be killed by predators, and also argued the hunt was contrary to animal cruelty provisions in the Criminal Code.

'Do the right thing'

The hunt officially began May 1.

"Once it was clear the spring bear hunt would be going on we felt compelled to do everything possible to help out if cubs are orphaned," said Zoocheck spokeswoman Julie Woodyer.

"We hope that anyone who knows of orphaned cubs or lactating female bears that have been killed will call the hotline so that the appropriate people can be advised and a search for the cubs can be conducted."

The hotline number is 705-749-7704. Hunters and members of the public are encouraged to call and leave their name, telephone number and the location of the cubs, if known.

"There's no enforcement consequences for anyone who kills a lactating female so long as they did not see the cubs with her when they fired the shot," Woodyer said.

"We hope that hunters will do the right thing and call the hotline."