A Canadian conservation officer that was fired for refusing to kill 2 black bear cubs has won a legal battle over his termination.
In 2015, Bryce Casavant, the conservation officer, was fired after being dispatched to a mobile home park that was near the British Columbia town of Port Hardy.
Residents of the town had seen a female black bear rummaging through a freezer that was full of meat and salmon.
When Bryce arrived at the scene, he shot and killed the mother under the policy of the province, where a bear can be killed if it is seen to be reliant on human food. However, the man did not harm the 2 cubs because they did not eat the food.
The court documents said:
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 2 bears were rescued and were eventually released.
Because of the 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.
Casavant was eventually fired from his job.
The police officer spent years fighting his termination, and this week, the British Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that he did not do anything wrong.
During an interview with the Guardian, Casavant said:
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, honour and integrity. It’s how I was raised and how I’ve raised my daughter. I really feel that I was targeted.
Casavant was working with the service for 2 years before he got fired.
Casavant said that the decision was a vindication of his costly legal battle, which saw him appealing his termination at various levels of provincial courts.
The former cop has been a leading critic of the BCCOS (British Columbia Conservation Officer Service) practices since he got fired.
He is also a vocal advocate of establishing independent oversight over the body.
The former cop has also helped other people that are against how the conservation officers of British Columbia were carrying out their duties.
Many were criticizing the officers for killing bears too readily.
Pacific Wild, a conservation group, said that over 4,500 bears had been killed by conservation officers in the province over the last 8 years.
It is estimated that 4,341 black bears had been killed.
Casavant, who is working with Pacific Wild, said:
British Columbia isn’t a shooting gallery for government employees. It’s unreasonable to believe that, including juvenile bear cubs, over 4,000 black bears were killed “as a last resort”.
This is such a big win for Bryce! Good luck to you sir and thank you for exposing the horrific acts of the conservation officers in British Columbia.