Officer awaits fate as snoozing bear cubs on track for return to the wild

Jordan and Athena healthy and happy at North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre while arbitrator determines future of Bryce Casavant

Bear cubs Jordan and Athena in mid-October

As the fate of B.C. conservation officer Bryce Casavant is being determined by a union grievance hearing, the two bear cubs he saved are doing what bears do in the winter.

They are hibernating.

Jordan and Athena, now each a year old, became international celebrities in July of last year when Casavant defied government orders and refused to kill them.

Because of that decision, the cubs are today sleeping peacefully in a man-made enclosure at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre near Parksville, biding their time until they will be reintroduced into the wild later this year.

“They’re doing really, really well,” NIWRC wildlife manager Julie Mackey said. “They’re in an enclosed facility with six other cubs. They eat a lot and sleep a lot and chase each other around.”

The chasing has been less common since early December when the cubs went down for their mid-winter snooze. Rising temperatures will probably push them out of their den soon. Mackey said they should be ready for release — likely at an undisclosed north Island location — some time this spring or summer.

The goal of the centre is to keep wild animals as independent and isolated from humans as much as possible until they are healthy enough — or, in this case, mature enough — to survive in the wild. For Jordan and Athena, everything is happening according to plan.

“They see us for a short period, but they really haven’t been hands-on since they came here,” Mackey said. “We want them to be wild bears so that they run away like normal bears. They’re not showing any behaviour different from the other cubs.”

Lack of comfort around humans has been central to the cubs’ survival.

They received worldwide attention when Casavant disobeyed an order from his superiors within B.C.’s Ministry of Environment to put them 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.

Casavant was originally suspended for his actions, then transferred out of the conservation officer service into another department at the same wage. His union grieved that move, asking an arbitrator to reinstate him to his original position.

B.C. Government Employees Union spokesperson Chris Bradshaw said Friday that Casavant’s hearing is being heard in two parts, the first which happened in January, the second which was scheduled for Feb. 6 and 8.

Bradshaw said he couldn’t say when the arbitrator would announce his ruling. In the meantime, Casavant remains employed by the ministry in the north Island area.

Boosted by the support of British comedian Ricky Gervais, an online petition for Casavant’s reinstatement started by Port Hardy’s Vi-Anne Roberts has now passed a total of 309,000 signatures.

Roberts is hopeful the attention will make the ministry adjust the way it does business.

“The only lesson that needs to be learned here is by the government. Policies need to change, and change fast,” she said. “Our conservation officers are out there to ‘conserve’ whenever they can, however they can. Let them do their job morally, accordingly and properly.”

Representatives for the ministry had not responded to questions about the case by the time of this posting, but Roberts has no doubt in her mind about how this situation should conclude.

“I consider what Bryce did for those cubs heroic, yes. He put his job on the line to save those cubs, and paid the ultimate price for doing so. It’s a terrible shame,” she said.

“I’m hoping that once released back into the wild they will adjust well.. and live long, uninterrupted lives.”

Just Posted

Port Hardy Volleyball club requests funding from Port Hardy council

The sport of Volleyball is alive and well in the North Island,… Continue reading

North Island Seniors Housing Foundation takes the next step towards getting Trustee Road land

Seniors rejoice, Port Hardy council is very much in favour of helping… Continue reading

Should aquaculture programs be offered at North Island College in Port Hardy?

“I think it would be very timely to have an aquaculture program”

Island Health issues press release regarding Port Alice Health Centre service changes

Island Health will be hosting a community meeting in Port Alice Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. in the rec centre.

Vancouver Island Regional Library wants to team up with the Town of Port McNeill to build a new multi-use facility

“A new library for the town, as you know, will quickly become an exciting hub of literacy”

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Committee member Russell Murray talks Oscar Hickes memorial hockey tournament

Oscar Hickes is taking place in Port Alice at the Doug Bondue Arena March 28-31.

LETTER: Is BC Hydro’s Step Two rate discriminatory?

“This charge is strictly a penalty and has nothing to do with the cost of energy.”

North Island Bantam Eagles hammer Nanaimo Clippers, finish playoffs strong

The Eagles wasted no time coming out and firing on the Clippers in the Feb. 9 game.

North Island Peewee Eagles win back to back games, move on to semi-final showdown

The Eagles are back Feb. 17 in a semi-final matchup against the Peninsula Eagles in Port McNeill.

Most Read