Premier Christy Clark weighed in on the controversy surrounding a suspended conservation officer on Wednesday, expressing sympathy for the job done – and decisions made – by Bryce Casavant and his colleagues.
“It’s a really hard job being a conservation officer and having to make those kinds of decisions all the time,” Clark said Wednesday in Pemberton, where she was visiting the base of a 20,000-hectare forest fire nearby.
“My heart goes out to think that those two baby bears might have been shot – as an ordinary citizen,” Clark added. “But the decision about how this is managed will be made by the conservation officer corps, not politicians.”
Casavant was suspended, originally without pay, after he refused to put down two baby bears last weekend in Port Hardy. The bears were to be killed because their mother had at least twice broken into a mobile home and freezer, and the cubs were reported to have been eating garbage – that fact has been contested.
The mother was put down, but Casavant argued the babies weren’t liable for their mothers’ actions, and said he and members of the Port Hardy Fire Department had been working to save the bears.
“I think it is important for the community to know that I am here to do the right thing,” he told the North Island Gazette.
“It’s immoral to shoot a helpless baby bear, they are nursing still. They are not garbage bears. They are infants,” said Rob Hodder, the owner of the broken-into mobile home (via North Island Gazette). “I have an Aboriginal background and deem them to be a sacred animal to our people and I want them to be saved.”
Comedian and Hollywood heavyweight Ricky Gervais drew attention to the case on Tuesday night, Tweeting a link to the CBC’s story on Bryce Casavant’s suspension.
“Reinstate this honourable man,” wrote Gervais. The star of The Office and the most infamous Golden Globes host of all-time often Tweets his support for animals and animal rights, and followed his Casavant Tweet with another more pointed general declaration:
“When you shout for animals, some people want you to shut up. They’ll call you a fanatic, a hypocrite, an extremist, a bore. But shout anyway.”
Casavant is still suspended, but the BCGEU says he will get paid throughout his leave.