Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro put forward a private member's bill Tuesday calling for the return of the spring bear hunt. The season, which runs from mid-April to mid-June, was cancelled in 1999.

But Ontario's natural resources minister seems more inclined to consider alternatives.

Bear facts

The spring bear hunt was cancelled in 1999. (CBC)

David Orazietti said reopening the spring hunt is one idea — but not "one particular ... proposal" he's ready to adopt.

Mauro said he believes at least some of any expanded bear hunt should happen in the spring and that special measures may be required to protect adult female bears.​

But Orazietti said the nuisance bear problem is not an issue in all parts of northern Ontario, and the ministry is working to address safety concerns in areas with bear trouble.

Mauro said he'd be willing to consider other options, but there are lots of hurdles to overcome.

"It was the Conservatives that cancelled it. And so I honestly don't know where they are on it," he said.

"Should this get to second reading, that will obviously flush that out. And with regard to the third party, the NDP, I honestly don't know where they are on it either. Private members' bills have a poor track record for getting passed at Queen's Park."

Debate on Mauro's bill could occur Dec. 12 in the legislature.

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Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario CEO Laurie Marcil. (Supplied)

'Important piece of the puzzle'

Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario applauded the move. The group's CEO said bringing back the hunt would be good for outfitters.

"For the northern economy, I think that this is a real important piece of the puzzle," Laurie Marcil said.

Marcil said the spring hunt brings in crucial business for outfitters at a time when other hunters are not in the bush, and the fishing season has not started. 

NOTO has about 200 members, but claims it represents about 1,400 outfitters and other tourism operators, mainly in northern Ontario.