B.C. conservation officer who refused to kill cubs drops fight for reinstatement
A former B.C. conservation officer who made international headlines for refusing to kill two orphaned bear cubs last year has abandoned the fight to get his old job back.
In his first media interview since the controversy began, Bryce Casavant tells CTV Vancouver Island he’s moving on with his life and has accepted a new job with the B.C. government.
Casavant was suspended for disobeying provincial orders to destroy the cubs after their mother was caught raiding an outdoor freezer in Port Hardy July 3.
The mother bear was shot – but Casavant determined the cubs weren’t habituated to humans and sent them to a wildlife refuge instead.
Defying his bosses ultimately cost him his job, but Casavant gained thousands of supporters from around the world who called him a hero for saving the cubs’ lives.
That included comedian Ricky Gervais, who tweeted his support and called for the officer to be reinstated.
“People make difficult decisions every day in their lives, and I stood by my decision. I was willing to be held accountable professionally and legally for that decision,” he said. “I was supported by both the public and the union through that, and now at the end, also in furthering my own personal goals and aspirations in life, also now supported by the province, so it’s a good outcome.”
Those goals include a new position as senior compliance and enforcement officer with B.C.’s Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Casavant has also been accepted as a doctoral candidate to Royal Roads University in a research area that is very familiar.
“My field is in the social aspects of conflict wildlife,” he said. “I think I’ll be able to do just as much good in my personal life through research and academic furtherance as I would as a CO.”
Asked whether he would make the same decision now, Casavant said it depends on the facts – and not emotion.
“That’s a difficult question, because it’s complicated,” he said. “The reason why I made that decision had a lot less to do with emotion and a lot more to do with the legal authorities provided to constables and officers. So my decision-making process at the time, there was more of a legal basis to it than there was an emotional basis to it.”
The rescued cubs, since named Jordan and Athena, are still in the care of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, B.C.
The association said it planned to keep them in care for 18 months, at which point it is expected they’ll be released back to the wild.
With files from CTV Vancouver Island's Gord Kurbis