The Canadian conservation officer who lost his job for refusing to kill two black bear cubs has won a legal battle fought over his termination.
As per reports, Bryce Casavant was fired in 2015 after responding to a call from residents of a mobile home park near Port Hardy, British Columbia.
They told him there was a female black bear in the area, rummaging through a freezer full of meat and salmon. Casavant shot the bear dead under the province’s policy (which dictates a bear must be killed if it is reliant on human food) but refused to hurt her cubs, since locals said they hadn’t been eating the food.
As per court documents, he instead took them to a veterinarian, who “assessed them and transferred them to the North Island Recovery Centre.” They were later released back into the wild.
In light of his act of compassion, Casavant saw a complaint filed against him by his supervising officer. One day later, a formal Notice of Complaint was issued.
Casavant was then suspended pending an investigation, before then being fired altogether.
Unhappy, the former conservation officer fought against his termination in the courts. This week, the British Columbia Court of Appeals ruled in his favor.
Speaking to 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,” he continued. “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.”
Since his dismissal, Casavant has lead criticisms against the British Columbia Conservation Officer Service’s practices. He – alongside many others – believes that bears are killed too readily.
Back in January, conservation group Pacific Wild found that in excess of 4,500 bears had been killed in the province by conservation officers over the last eight years.
Casavant lent his own voice to the report, stating: “[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”.”
Indeed, the very idea of conservation officers actively shooting bear cubs and mamas just breaks my heart.
Thank you, Bryce Casavant, for taking a stand even though it cost you your job and ultimately changed your life.
Share this article to praise his courage.