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.

Sanctuary owner calls hunt 'a mistake'

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

Now he asks people opposed to the spring bear hunt to make their voices heard.

McIntosh runs the Bear With Us sanctuary in Sprucedale, Ont.

In an interview with CBC News, he called the province's plan to bring back the hunt as a two-year pilot project "a mistake." He said it's based on misinformation from certain hunters' groups, including the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters.

"Everybody I talk to, I'm trying to get that message out," he said. "We've had an overwhelming response from northern Ontario. These people are now writing letters to the government to let them know that they don't agree with the government's decision."

McIntosh said in an earlier interview that 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."

Bear Hunt Map

A map of where the bear hunt will be held in Ontario this year. (File photo)