Canada

B.C. conservation officer fired for not killing two bear cubs sues for job reinstatement, back pay

B.C. appeals court ruled his firing was illegal, but a year on, he has not been given back his job

The two cubs — later named Jordan and Athena — at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.

Bryce Casavant, who was fired as a conservation officer for refusing his supervisor’s order to shoot two orphaned bear cubs in 2015 is suing to get his job back.

Last year, a judge ruled that Casavant, 37, acted within the law when he decided to rescue the cubs instead of killing them, but the Ministry of Environment for the province is sticking to their position that he was fired for refusing an order, and will not return his badge or his uniform. As it is not allowing him to return to work, he’s taken the matter before the courts again.

His lawyer is asking that Casavant be reinstated, receive a salary in the range of $55,000 to $75,000, and back pay for the past five years.

Bryce Casavant prepares to transfer one of the two cubs to the wildlife centre.
Bryce Casavant prepares to transfer one of the two cubs to the wildlife centre. Photo by via Facebook

“Mr. Casavant simply wants the job which was unlawfully taken from him back,” Arden Beddoes told the Toronto Star. “The process that was used to take his job was declared void by the Court of Appeal, so there is no lawful basis for the province to deny him that.”

In 2015, Casavant shot dead the mother bear for repeatedly raiding the freezer of a mobile home near Port Hardy on Vancouver Island.

But he believed the two-month-old cubs could be rehabilitated and brought them to a veterinarian instead. And they were successfully rehabbed and released back into the wild.

Casavant’s take on the conservation officer position is that he was a “special constable,” akin to a police officer, so the decision about whether to kill the cubs was his. He says a solution would support the rights of the thousands of special constables in Canada, who work in such enforcement areas as liquor and gambling licensing as well as natural resources and the environment.

Casavant told the Star that “I have always maintained that a constable cannot be ordered to kill — it’s an illegal order.”

The province has 21 days to reply to his court petition.

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