EDITORIAL: Could you kill these cubs?

Hundreds of 'problem' bears are killed by conservation officers every year in B.C.

If it was your job to shoot two adorable-looking bear cubs, could you do it?

Should it be anyone’s job to shoot bear cubs? And once they are given names, is it even remotely possible they could be coldly shot to death?

Jordan and Athena are five months old. They are currently under the expert care of the talented and loving staff at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington.

They are worldwide media stars, thanks to the compassionate act of a conservation officer. Winnie and Yogi, step aside.

As with most stories, there are more than two sides. We’d like to hear, through letters to the editor or comments on our website, your view of the situation. First, a little background.

A B.C. conservation officer was suspended without pay for failing to euthanize these cubs in Port Hardy. Their mother had been killed after repeatedly breaking into a freezer containing meat and salmon. The bears came looking for their mom and that’s when Bryce Casavant refused the order he was given to shoot and kill the cubs.

Instead, he brought them to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association’s (NIWRA) facility in Errington.

NIWRA’s Robin Campbell has called Casavant a hero.

The CO also received praise from many people around the province and country.

“The conservation officer did the right thing,” Gail Martin, the founder of Critter Care, told our sister paper, The Langley Times. “Finally someone stood up to the government and said no to what they knew wasn’t right.”

NIWRA officials tell us they plan to release the cubs into the wild in about a year.

Hundreds of “problem” bears are destroyed by conservation officers every year. Many of these bears have gotten a taste for human garbage and, after attempts to relocate them, return to neighbourhoods where kids walk to school.

What about Jordan and Athena? They have lost their mother. They watched her look for food near humans. Well if anyone can keep these bears healthy and ready for release into the wild, it’s the NIWRA.

Should the CO keep his job? He declined to do something he was asked to do by a superior. He didn’t follow orders, essentially. Surely it’s OK not to follow an order one believes is immoral, is it not? Or perhaps you believe he should look for another line of work. We don’t have any answers here — we want to hear what our valued readers have to offer.

— Editorial by John Harding

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