Bear cub-saving CO abandons battle for reinstatement

Bryce Casavant content with other employment options after refusal to shoot cubs thrust him into international spotlight

Conservation officer Bryce Casavant captures one of two bear cubs in Port Hardy last July.

The Vancouver Island conservation officer who became international news last summer for refusing to shoot two bear cubs has abandoned the fight to get his job back.

Bryce Casavant launched a grievance after he was first suspended, then transferred out of the CO service and into another department following his actions in defiance of provincial orders.

According to his union, the grievance has now been dropped.

“Bryce Casavant is content with his current position with the Ministry of Forests and has chosen not to continue his grievances in the pursuit of a return to his previous position with the Ministry of Environment,” BC Government Employees Union president Stephanie Smith said in an emailed statement.

“Bryce has decided to focus his energy on attaining a PhD in furtherance of interests in environmental sustainability. The Province of B.C. supports his decision.”

Casavant received worldwide attention when he disobeyed an order from his superiors within B.C.’s Ministry of Environment to put the cubs down after their mother was caught ravaging a freezer July 3 in Port Hardy. He shot the mom as being too habituated to humans for rehabilitation, but determined the cubs did not meet the same standard and could be saved.

Boosted by the support of British comedian Ricky Gervais, an online petition for Casavant’s reinstatement eventually passed a total of 300,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, the cubs whose lives Casavant spared remain isolated from human contact at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington, west of Parksville. Dubbed Jordan and Athena, they have emerged from hibernation and are expected to be released back into the wild along with the centre’s other rescue cubs.

“The eight cubs including Jordan and Athena are doing well. They have become active in their enclosure again but nothing really has changed,”  NIWRA wildlife manager Julie Mackey said. “We still do not have any word on release date but are hoping for early summer.”

A new provincial policy for dealing with problem bears is expected to be in place this spring.

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