Conservation officer who saved bear cubs being pushed out of job
The B.C. conservation officer who refused to kill two young black bears earlier this year is being transferred to another job, his union revealed Friday.
Bryce Casavant was suspended with pay in July after he defied an order to euthanize the cubs and instead brought them to a rehabilitation facility on Vancouver Island.
The government launched an investigation into the incident, and this week Casavant learned he’s being forced out of the Conservation Officer Service.
The B.C. Government Employees’ Union described the move as a “disciplinary transfer” and pledged to fight to keep Casavant on his chosen career path.
“Casavant should not have been suspended, and he should not be transferred from his job,” BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said in a statement.
“He has a distinguished record of public service in law enforcement. [He] did the right thing when he decided these young bears should be reassessed for rehabilitation.”
A provincial wildlife veterinarian has assessed the cubs, and on Friday confirmed they have been approved as candidates for the orphaned bear cub rearing and release program.
They are expected to be kept at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre until next year, when they will be released as yearlings.
The cubs were five months old when they were found at a property near Port Hardy with their mother, who had been caught eating salmon from a freezer. The sow was put down.
There were concerns the cubs were dangerously habituated to humans as well, but provincial veterinarian Helen Schwantje said that is not the case anymore.
“Additional information was received from the homeowner that suggests the cubs were less or not conditioned to human food and presence than first reported,” Schwantje said in a statement.
The BCGEU said it has already filed a grievance over Casavant’s suspension, and it’s filing a second grievance about his disciplinary transfer.
The union plans to schedule an arbitration hearing as soon as possible.
A government spokesperson said he couldn’t comment on specifics of the case, but told CTV News Casavant is being moved to an equivalent position within government at no loss of salary or classification.