Bryce Casavant, the conservation officer who was suspended after refusing to kill two black bear cubs near Port Hardy, is being transferred out of the Conservation Officer Service.
In July, Casavant made national headlines for saving two cubs, Jordan and Athena, who are now living in Errington under the care of the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRC) team. Casavant shot their mother after she repeatedly broke into a meat freezer in a mobile home in the North Island but refused to euthanize the cubs.
The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) issued a news release Friday confirming they are in the process of filing a grievance over the transfer, after already filing a grievance over Casavant’s suspension earlier this summer.
“Bryce Casavant was following clear procedures when he decided to save these young bears,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith in the release.
“We will pursue these issues to an arbitration hearing and ask an independent decision maker to find there was no just cause for the employer’s actions.”
Smith said Casavant shouldn’t have been suspended in the first place — and he shouldn’t be transferred from his position as a CO.
“He has a distinguished record of public service in law enforcement,” said Smith. “Bryce Casavant did the right thing when he decided these young bears should be assessed for rehabilitation.”
B.C. Public Service Agency team supervisor Ronda Watson declined to comment on Casavant’s transfer or provide additional information on where he was transferred to and why.
“Due to the confidentiality of all our employees The B.C. Public Service Agency will not be releasing any information,” Watson said in an e-mail to The NEWS on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, NIWRC co-owner Sylvia Campbell said the bears are adjusting “just great” to life at the recovery centre.
“The bears are great, they’re growing and they are a lot bigger than when they first came in,” Campbell told The NEWS. “They’re adjusting to life well, they’ve mingled with other bears very well and they have no health issues.”
Jordan and Athena are now seven months old and may be some of the most famous bears in B.C.
Their story went viral in July attracting a myriad of attention on social media, including a tweet from self-proclaimed “animal avenger” British comedian Ricky Gervais who posted “Bryce Casavant, conservation officer, suspended for refusing to kill bear cubs… Reinstate this honourable man.”
An online petition to reinstate Casavant has garnered 305,020 signatures to-date. The petition can be found at www.change.org. You can visit Jordan and Athena at the NIWRC and watch them on a closed circuit television.