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Canadian Conservation Officer Fired For Refusing To Kill Bear Cubs Wins Legal Battle To Clear His Name

by : Lucy Connolly on : 12 Jun 2020 10:49
Canadian Conservation Officer Fired For Refusing To Kill Bear Cubs Wins Legal Battle To Clear His NameU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/BC Conservation Officer Service

A Canadian conservation officer who was fired for refusing to kill two black bear cubs has won a legal battle over his termination.

Bryce Casavant was fired in 2015 after being dispatched to a mobile home park near the British Columbia town of Port Hardy, where residents had seen a female black bear rummaging through a freezer full of meat and salmon.

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When he arrived, he shot and killed the mother under the province’s policy – in which a bear has to be killed if it is seen to be reliant on human food – but decided not to harm the cubs, as locals told him they hadn’t been eating the food.

Black bear cubsPixabay

‘Instead of complying with the kill order, he took the cubs to a veterinarian who assessed them and transferred them to the North Island Recovery Centre,’ the court documents read. The cubs were eventually released into the wild.

However, because of Casavant’s refusal to follow the order to kill the cubs, his supervising officer filed a complaint against him and a day later, a formal Notice of Complaint was issued alleging ‘the disciplinary default of neglect of duty’.

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He was then suspended pending an investigation into the allegation, before being fired shortly afterwards. Casavant spent years fighting his termination, and just this week the British Columbia Court of Appeals ruled in his favour.

Black bearsPixabay

‘I feel like the black clouds that have hung over my family for years are finally starting to part,’ Casavant told The Guardian. ‘But the moment is bittersweet – my firing should have never happened in the first place.’

He continued:

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I kept fighting so that I could clear my name. I’ve long stood for public service, honour and integrity. It’s how I was raised and how I’ve raised my daughter. I really feel that I was targeted.

Casavant, who had been with the service for two years before he got fired, said the decision was a ‘vindication’ of his costly legal battle, which saw him appealing his termination at various levels of provincial courts.

bryce casavant fired as conservation officer for refusing to kill cubsBC Conservation Officer Service

Casavant has been a leading critic of the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service’s practices since he was fired, and has been a vocal advocate of establishing independent oversight over the body. He has also helped others who are opposing the way BC conservation officers carry out their duties, with many criticising them for killing bears too readily.

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In January, conservation group Pacific Wild – which works with Casavant – found more than 4,500 bears had been killed by conservation officers in the province over the last eight years, including 4,341 black bears.

‘[British Columbia] isn’t a shooting gallery for government employees,’ Casavant wrote in the report. ‘It’s unreasonable to believe that, including juvenile bear cubs, over 4,000 black bears were killed “as a last resort”.’

Black bearPA Images

Ultimately, the court’s judgement does not reinstate Casavant as a conservation officer, but he continues to work to improve the body’s practices.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Animals, bears, Canada, conservation, Nature, Now, wildlife

Credits

British Columbia Courts and 2 others
  1. British Columbia Courts

    COURT OF APPEAL FOR BRITISH COLUMBIA

  2. The Guardian

    Canadian conservation officer fired for refusing to kill bear cubs wins legal battle

  3. Pacific Wild

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