What a world we live in when a man does the right thing and is punished by a suspension without pay. Spending time in the military and with The Ministry of Natural Resources, I understand the chain of command and what it entails, but it takes a man like CO Bryce Casavant with big boots to break that chain by saving the lives of two bear cubs, both which are displaying normal cub behaviour down at the North Island Wildlife Recovery facility in Errington and are deemed good candidates for reintroduction to the wilds.
Bryce’s suspension is a microcosm of a bigger picture of control, manipulation, and lip service to the environment by bureaucrats, politicians, and desk-top biologists. BC, the greenest province in Canada is an illusion, coal mining operations devastating mountain goat populations, Mount Polly like disasters in which bureaucrats attempt to down play its impact, ski lodges being built in prime Mountain Caribou habitat, one of the most endangered species in the world, and the devastation of the Conservation Officer ranks which is the front line in the war against the erosion of our environment. The COs are there to protect the environment not kill it. Someone in head office didn’t get that memo I guess.
Between 1995 to the early 2000s the CO ranks were slashed by more than 50 per cent and during that same period their responsibilities were increased, and that number has dropped even further since to 148 CO positions of which 16 are management and the last count had 12 vacancies, meaning 120 functioning COs for the province of BC, a land mass of 944,735 square kilometres. That’s 7,873 square kilometres for each officer. Of course the bureaucrats will tell you that each region is supported by a network of other regions, in other words through no fault of their own they are more of a reactionary force than a pro-action force. Bryce was reacting to the sow, but was proactive by saving future heathy adult bears,
I can’t speak on his behalf, but I’m sure it felt good, seeing something positive. It’s good for morale, why can’t his desk top masters see that.
In close to 40 years working with bears, I’ve only been involved in the killing of one sow and luckily we had a superintendent who trusted the boots on the ground.
Herb and I were given free rein on how to deal with her two cubs who were healthy and active, and the following spring they were two happy siblings, almost a year older, and we didn’t have a recovery centre back then, where these days there is a number of wildlife rehab centers which should in theory make it easier for Conservation Officers to make decisions pertaining to the welfare of cubs. Bryce’s desk-top masters should trust the boots on the ground and their firsthand knowledge to determine the correct course of action when it concerns wildlife.
Thankfully Bryce is getting massive support around the globe. We as a society have to be constantly vigilant if we are to protect the world we live in, and if we support the Bryces of the world, there will come a day when we will see an end to bureaucrats and desk-top biologists paying homage to their political masters by paying lip service to the environment while killing it slowly including healthy bear cubs.