Former North Island Conservation Officer and Doctoral Candidate with Royal Roads University, Bryce Casavant, issued a press release stating he has recently passed comprehensive exams regarding a proposed research project to begin this year.
“The research project is a Critical Discourse Analysis of the last century of wildlife enforcement records in BC,” said Casavant.
He added, “Wildlife co-existence is a growing social concern locally in British Columbia and globally. Many wildlife management practices are destructive and rooted in language, tradition, myth, and organizational culture.”
Casavant is best known for his actions in declining a kill order for two small bear cubs (Jordan and Athena) in 2015 when he worked as an armed North Island Conservation Officer, a decision which cost him his job. The situation sparked international outrage and even garnered public calls for reinstatement from celebrities such as Ricky Gervais. Casavant ran for the BCNDP in the 2017 provincial elections and has now turned his focus to researching the practices and policies of the very government agency that fired him.
In his research briefing A bridge for no man: Wildlife enforcement and applied social change (recently published on researchgate.net), Casavant argues there is a need for the development of ethical and moral wildlife policies. He contends uniformed and armed public servants of the Crown (i.e., armed officers) have a central role to play in ensuring public trust is held in the highest regards.
He says, “Understanding the language that government uses to describe wildlife management practices is important.”
Casavant argues that a Critical Discourse Analysis of the last 100 years of wildlife records may contribute to a new body of knowledge regarding wildlife law enforcement practices and hopefully applied social change through the re-building of the province’s moral and ethical relationship with the wildlife under its custodial care.
The project’s supervisory team has attracted some well-known names in wildlife, environmental, and social research including Dr. Shelley Alexander (a professor with the University of Calgary), BC’s own Dr. Chris Darimont (an associate professor with the University of Victoria), Dr. Siomonn Pulla (an associate professor and social sciences program head with Royal Roads University), and Dr. Sara Dubois (an adjunct professor with the University of British Columbia and Chief Scientific Officer with the BCSPCA). As a special advisor, the project has also retained Dr. Adrian Treves (a well-known large carnivore specialist and a professor of environmental studies with the University of Wisconsin – Madison).
Casavant states, “Although a full research proposal is still to come, I’m extremely grateful for the supervisory team’s subject matter expertise and their willingness to come on board and assist me in this learning process. I could not do it without them.”
In addition to the supervisory team, the project also has input from the BC Conservation Officer Service, the Ministry of Environment, and the BC Public Service Agency (which is currently negotiating with Casavant over the terms and conditions for data access under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act).