Conservation Officer Fired For Refusing To Kill Bear Cubs Wins Legal Battle To Clear His Name
Published in Jun 2020 / Updated in Sep 2021
A Canadian conservation officer who was fired for refusing to kill two black bear cubs wins a legal battle over his termination.
The original incident happened when locals called Bryce Casavant to a mobile home park near Port Hardy in British Columbia.
Residents had spotted a female black bear foraging through refrigerators that contained meat and fish.
When he arrived, he shot and killed the mother, under British Columbia’s policy. If a bear allegedly becomes reliant on human food sources, the policy states it has to be killed.
However, Casavant Decided Not to Harm the Cubs
Locals told Casavant the cubs hadn’t been eating the food. So he decided not to shoot them. Instead, he took them to a vet.
The veterinarians assessed the small bears and transferred them to the North Island Recovery Centre. They later released the cubs to the wild.
Casavant’s Decision to Save the Cubs, However, Led to a Suspension from Duty
Since Casavant refused 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.’
The conservation agency fired Casavant shortly afterward and transferred him out of the Conservation Officer Service.
But Casavant Wasn’t Willing to Go Down Without a Fight
After years of fighting his termination in the provincial courts, the British Columbia court of appeals finally ruled in his favor.
Despite the ruling not officially reinstating him, Casavant feels a sense of “vindication” after his expensive and lengthy legal battle.
Casavant told the Guardian:
“I feel like the black clouds that have hung over my family for years are finally starting to part.”
“But the moment is bittersweet – my firing should have never happened in the first place. I kept fighting so that I could clear my name. I’ve long stood for public service, honor, and integrity. It’s how I was raised and how I’ve raised my daughter.”
Since His Firing, Casavant Has Been a Leading Critic of Conservation Officer Service’s Practices
He has also been a vocal advocate of establishing independent oversight over the British Columbia Conservation Service.
Working with conservation group Pacific Wild, he found conservation officers have killed over 4,500 bears in the province over the last 8 years.
Casavant wrote in a report:
“British Columbia isn’t a shooting gallery for government employees.”
“It’s unreasonable to believe that, including juvenile bear cubs, [they’ve killed] over 4,000 black bears…’as a last resort’.”