June 29, 2017
Conservation Officer Refuses To Kill Orphaned Bear Cubs, Gets Suspended Without Pay

A Canadian conservation officer has been suspended without pay after refusing to kill two bear cubs whose mother had been euthanized.

The older bear was reportedly shot and killed after it repeatedly raided a freezer in a mobile home located south of Port Hardy in British Columbia, according to the Huffington Post. After the conservation service was called, officers were forced to euthanize the bear, yet her cubs later returned to the property, climbing a tree and calling out for their mother.

Officer Bryce Casavant was able to tranquilize the bear cubs, a brother and sister estimated to be 8-weeks-old. Despite an order to kill the bear cubs from his superiors, Casavant transported them to a veterinarian, who found the animals to be healthy. The bears were then taken to a recovery center operated by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, according to the Independent.Robin Campbell, who manages the center, asserted that Casavant did the right thing, despite his orders. Calling the directive to kill the bear cubs unusual, he pointed out that they could be reintroduced to the wild, as they have yet to become acclimated to human beings.

"In 30 years, this is the first time we've ever had an issue like this," he observed. "There has to be some kind of misunderstanding... hopefully somebody will come to their senses. [The mother bear] was a problem, but these cubs did nothing."

Casavant has since been suspended without pay for refusing to kill the bear cubs, pending a performance review. A Change.org petition has been started by his supporters, calling upon British Columbia's environment minister, Mary Polak, to reinstate him. It has garnered 18,000 signatures in just its first 24 hours.

The Ministry of Environment, which ordered the bear cubs' destruction, has allegedly received conflicting data regarding their behavior, according to the Campbell River Mirror. One report asserted that the bear cubs were feeding on trash, while another contradicted that assessment. If the bears were indeed doing so, a case could be made for their destruction, as they would likely remember and associate human beings with food. If that report is flawed, however, the bear cubs could be relocated and released into the wild.

Earlier this year, two male bear cubs were rescued by a similar recovery center in New Jersey after they were orphaned by a hunter, as the Inquisitr previously reported. Campbell noted that the bear cubs were being watched by staff at the center, who would attempt to asses their current state.

"If there is any negative behavior we will be able to see it," he observed.

Campbell also pointed out that the Ministry has agreed to let the center care for the wayward bear cubs while an investigation is carried out.

[Image: North Island Wildlife Awareness via Twitter]