A petition to reinstate British Columbia conservation officer Bryce Casavant has nearly reached 200,000 signatures as of Monday morning. Casavant was suspended without pay earlier this month when he refused an order to euthanize two black bear cubs—a male and female—after their mother was killed after repeatedly ransacking a mobile home near Port Hardy for food. Instead, Casavant retrieved the bear cubs and turned them over to a wildlife rehabilitation center in Errington, earning a reprimand from his superiors.

“The babies were estimated to be about eight weeks and weigh 20 to 25 pounds, are healthy and still nursing,” stated the online petition, which urges Minister of Environment Mary Polak to reinstate Casavant as soon as possible.

Casavant’s suspension has drawn significant media attention and crowds of supporters, but opinions among fellow wildlife officers are mixed. According to the experts, relocating bears is expensive, labor-intensive, and has a high chance of failure. Adult bears that are relocated will often find their way back to where they were captured while cubs have much lower chances for survival. In this case, officials indicated that the cubs were with their mother while she raided the mobile home and may have picked up the behavior themselves. Experts say it takes only one exposure to garbage feeding before cubs learn to do it afterwards.

“Bears are so smart. They are smarter that the average dog. Once they see a pattern where they can get some food, they will return again and again with the hypothesis that there’s got to be food there again sometime,” retired wildlife professor Barrie Gilbert told the CBC.

Gilbert added that people supporting Casavant are listening more to their emotions than proper conservation techniques. Wildlife agencies across Canada and the United States must sometimes euthanize orphaned cubs, especially if they have learned how to target humans for food. Environment Minister Mary Polak said in a statement that the decision to destroy the cubs came from senior biologists and provincial wildlife veterinarians, as well as the conservation officers involved.

You can see a video of the cubs below:

“This is a very sad and unfortunate situation,” Polak said. “Although conservation officers must sometimes put down wild animals for the safety of the public and the welfare of the animal, we understand how difficult it is for all involved.”

Robin Campbell, who runs the rehabilitation center where the cubs are now, said there is no reason to euthanize them since they were never in the mobile home. Campbell added that the decision is oftentimes left to the officer in the field, and after investigating, it was Casavant’s decision not to kill the cubs.

“Bryce has put down bears before, that’s not the issue,” Campbell told the Toronto Star. “Killing something for no reason was the issue.”

The Conservation Officer Service is currently investigating the case and officials have not yet decided on what to do with the cubs. Casavant also remains suspended, but his pay was recently reinstated.

Image screenshot of video by The National on YouTube

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5 thoughts on “Canadian Conservation Officer Suspended for Refusing to Kill Bear Cubs

  1. I fish and bear hunt in Canada and the Canadian Gov’t is so backwards , it is unreal. Their way of thinking is from the 1950s still. I guess they don’t think much of Wildlife Rehab’s…Am glad the wildlife bio is retired, a bear smarter than a dog…Really!!!!!….You were in the woods too long buddy..Hopefully the CO’s job comes out good..He is a very good one and uses good judgement I would say….

  2. I see this is a heroic action for an officer to know when his orders are unethical and standing by his judgment. Canada is fortunate to have a thinking CO.
    When I was in the military, I refused orders twice. It was scary but I was right and the commanders were intelligent enough to examine the reasons I did so. That is leadership. It made them stronger. We usually trust the persons in the field to give us the best information.
    In this case, two lives were spared which gave humans an opportunity to be kinder and respectful to the wildlife. It reveals who we are. If the officer was wrong on a judgment call, it would have been an opportunity to help the officer reinforce the chain of command through counseling. Instead, he was robotically punished. The outcry shows what kind of people Canadians wish to be. Is the government serving and protecting the people in this action?

  3. The CO made a good decision. The Cubs didn’t need to be put down if they had not been in the mobile home. He should have his job back. Not insubordination, more like utilizing his knowledge and experience. However to be raised and returned to the wild is probably a death sentence. With all the zoos and wildlife sanctuaries in North America, I’m sure a facility would take them. After their experience already, I doubt they can operate in the wild without getting in trouble with people or other bears. I’m sure the decision was based on that fact and measured against the costs. I seriously doubt it was just a rote response and execution based on a non analytic approach. If you consider the number of orphaned Cubs every year, it’s easy to comprehend that millions of dollars could be spent annually to “save” all the orphaned animals…… But that doesn’t mean that a very competent CO should just do everything based on the rote policy. There must be room for an exception here and there.

  4. Once again a hero gets punished. Sometimes this world shows just how backwards it is. Japenese proverb says ” the nail that sticks out farthest gets hammered”. What if it were 2 children that were with their parent while robbing a house would they also not learn from the same behavior, possibly grow to commit the same crimes, and cost thousands for rehab programs or jail time? Would they also give an order to execute the kids everytime this happened? It amazes me how govts think so diff regarding innocent animals compared to humans. Im no tree hugger nor a hunter but I am a former marine and I i would have made the same call as the ranger. I applaud him and anyone else that actually does whats just in the world. We need more like this.

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