Canadian conservation officer Bryce Casavant made international headlines 2015, when he was fired for refusing to kill two orphaned bear cubs. Five years later, he’s finally been vindicated in court.
The law required him to kill their mother for “stealing” salmon out of a deep freezer, but seeing as the cubs hadn’t committed any such “crime,” he had them rehabilitated and released into the wild.
Casavant made this decision in defiance of orders by his “superiors” at the British Coloumbia Conservation Officers Service, who had instructed him to kill the bears.
The law in British Columbia is that any bears that are deemed to have become reliant on “human food,” such as human garbage, are to be shot and killed.
After various reports from residents of the trailer park he’d been called out to that the cubs had not been seen rummaging through garbage cans or the deep freezer full of fish and meat, Casavant decided they deserved a chance to live and transferred them to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.
For this, he was fired.
This summer, the BC Court of Appeals has ruled that Casavant was wrongfully terminated. While the judge did not reinstate him to his post, the ruling will ensure all conservation officers in BC have the legal right to make similar decisions to actually protect and “conserve” non-threatening wildlife.
Casavant has since gone to work for a non-governmental, non-profit conservation group called Pacific Wild, where he can help keep his former employers in check.
Pacific Wild recently published a report revealing the British Columbia Conservation Officers Service had killed 4500 bears in the last 8 years for coming to close to “human territory,” looking to make a meal out of the scraps of civilization.
While the BC government claims not a single conservation officer relishes the thought of having to put down animals, Casavant disagrees.
“British Columbia isn’t a shooting gallery for government employees,” he said. “It’s unreasonable to believe that, including juvenile bear cubs, over 4,000 black bears were killed ‘as a last resort.’”