A former BC conservation officer who was fired for refusing to kill two bear cubs on Northern Vancouver Island has won a court appeal over his dismissal.
The BC Court of Appeal has ruled the legal process was flawed and Bryce Casavant’s dismissal should be nullified.
It was back in 2015 when the former conservation officer defied orders and refused to kill two cubs after euthanizing their mother, who had been seen eating garbage in a mobile home park in Port Hardy.
Casavant was fired over the incident, yet the two cubs, later named Jordan and Athena, were eventually released back into the wild from a facility for rehabilitation.
“Mr. Casavant euthanized the sow but not the cubs because he understood, from speaking with the complainant, that only the sow had been eating garbage,” stated the three-judge panel in its decision.
“Killing the cubs in these circumstances would be inconsistent with Ministry policy.”
As such, the court felt Casavant’s dismissal should be nullified. The court, however, did not order for him to be reinstated.
Casavant has maintained throughout court proceedings that as a special constable appointed under the Police Act that the decision of discharging his firearm was his to make. “My choice was not to kill them.”
“The Court of Appeal has upheld that,” he added.
Casavant tweeted a thank you to everyone who had sent congratulations about the decision, stating he believes it to be a landmark win for BC Constables.
To everyone who has sent notes of congratulations – thank you! I do consider the BCCA decision a landmark win for BC constables. I can confirm that I have retained Vancouver lawyer @ardenbeddoes to address future matters. I will provide further comments at a later date. pic.twitter.com/nx7gGIDYG3
— Bryce Casavant, DSocSci (@Bryce_Casavant) June 8, 2020
“It’s been a very long journey,” Casavant said Tuesday, June 9 from his home in Port Alberni. “After five years of it taking its toll on my family, I feel like a weight’s been lifted; a dark cloud has been parted. My future is unknown, but it’s looking positive.”
After being dismissed from the BC Conservation Officer Service, Casavant worked for the Ministry of Forests and tried his hand at politics, running in the 2017 provincial election as the NDP candidate in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding, which was won by the Green Party’s Andrew Weaver. He now works for Pacific Wild as a conservation policy analyst.
Casavant also graduated from Royal Roads University with a Ph.D in social sciences. His dissertation was released June 5, 2020, one day after the court decision clearing him of wrongdoing. Titled “In Search of a Wild Peace,” it examines the relationship between wildlife and the BC Conservation Officer Service’s use of lethal force.
Casavant said he feels the people who fired him should be held accountable, and he will talking with his lawyer about what the next step is.
He has been awarded court costs for his appeal.
Casavant said six previous court decisions went against him, and called this victory “a bittersweet moment. It shouldn’t have happened, and it shouldn’t have crossed two (government) administrations like that.”