A universe of beauty, mystery and wonder

A universe of beauty, mystery and wonder

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CANADIAN CONSERVATION OFFICER WHO REFUSED TO MURDER BEAR CUBS IS SUSPENDED WITHOUT PAY - Mother bear was murdered for raiding someone's freezer near Port Hardy, British Columbia - Suspension has sparked public OUTRAGE and an ONLINE PETITION for the officer's reinstatement

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File photo of baby black bears.
The surviving orphans,
brother and sister

From a CBC reader's comment:  "For centuries now, the only "animal problems" in North America have been humans."

But it's not just Europeans who are to blame.  Aboriginals hunted bison by stampeding them over a cliff.  They did away with megafauna now extinct, such as mammoths, giant beavers, and many others.  


July 10:  "Needless destruction of a baby animal" - Hacked emails between Officer Bryce Casavant and his boss have been released by a source with unconfirmed links to hack group Anonymous.  They reveal how Casavant tried to save the cubs' lives against his boss' orders.  (Read more further down this page.) 

July 9:  Scientist specializing in the rehabilitation of bears says that killing orphan cubs is NOT based on science.  (Read more further down this page.)

July 8 - According to the Huffington Post, Officer Bryce Casavant has had his pay reinstated but he remains under suspension.  No further details are given.

Earlier on July 8 the CBC reported:

British Columbia conservation officer Bryce Casavant has been suspended without pay for refusing to kill two black bear cubs near Port Hardy after their mother was killed for repeatedly raiding a freezer full of meat and salmon.
Despite an order to kill the cubs too, Casavant took them to a veterinary hospital. They are now at a recovery centre run by the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington, which like Port Hardy is on Vancouver Island.

Robin Campbell, the recovery centre's manager, said the conservation officer did the right thing as the cubs are not habituated to humans and can be reintroduced to the wild.
"[The mother bear] was a problem, but these cubs did nothing." 

Continue reading

2 port hardy cubs.jpg
After Casavant's suspension was reported in a community paper, an online petition was started asking Environment Minister Mary Polak to reinstate the officer. 
The cubs — a brother and sister — returned to the property looking for their mother.

They climbed a tree next to the mobile home, and were removed by a team of firefighters and the conservation officer.

Casavant tranquillized the cubs and took them to a veterinarian, who found they were in good health, Campbell said.
Two cubs
 After a community paper, the North Island Gazette,
posted a story showing the tranquillized cubs,
 a petition was started to reinstate the
 conservation officer. (North Island Gazette)

Campbell, whose facility has a provincial permit to rehabilitate black bears, called the order to kill the cubs unusual, since they were fearful of humans and good candidates for release.

"In 30 years, this is the first time we've ever had an issue like this," he said. 

"There has to be some kind of misunderstanding ... hopefully somebody will come to their senses."
The B.C. Ministry of Environment hasn't said what it plans to do about the cubs now, but in a statement said the Conservation Officer Service is investigating "this situation, including the actions of its members."
"This is a very sad and unfortunate situation," said Polak in a statement.
"Although conservation officers must sometimes put down wild animals for the safety of the public and the welfare of the animal, we understand how difficult it is for all involved."
Polak said senior biologists and the provincial wildlife veterinarian are involved in the decision whether to relocate or destroy an animal, in addition to the local conservation officer.
The ministry said it would not comment on personnel matters due to privacy rules.
Casavant confirmed he was suspended without pay over the cubs, but declined to comment further.

Sources -

ONLINE PETITION - Reinstate conservation officer Bryce Casavant

July 8 update by the Huffington Post says only that Mr Casavant's pay has been reinstated, but he remains under suspension.  No further details.

Hacked emails show B.C. conservation officer trying to save orphaned bears

July 10 - The Province - An email chain detailing suspended B.C. conservation officer Bryce Casavant’s attempts to save two orphaned bear cubs from death has been released by a source with unconfirmed links to the hacker group Anonymous. 
The six-page email chain, which was sent out Friday morning to several B.C. media outlets, captures a back and forth between Casavant and his commanding officer over a two-day period last week.
No one claimed responsibility for distributing the email chain, portions of which are heavily redacted, and it remains unclear if the emails were obtained by hacking the government’s email system, as suggested, or via a leak.
The Ministry of Environment said in a statement sent out late Friday afternoon no evidence exists to support the claim government had been the subject of an online attack.
“The Office of the Chief Information Officer has investigated allegations that emails from the Ministry of Environment have been obtained by a hacker group and found no evidence that the government’s email system was hacked,” the statement reads. “The system remains secure.”
The subject line in the email sent to the media on Friday reads “ HACK.”
The email address from which it was sent is “”
A portion of the email reads:
“Turns out our international bear hero was telling the truth. The people have spoken.”
The attached correspondence begins July 3. In one email, sent on that same day, Casavant is told that the cubs, whose mother was earlier killed by officers for breaking into a meat freezer at a residential home, “need to be euthanized asap” as they were “garbage habituated.”
“They are not rehab candidates,” a further email sent to Casavant’s government work email reads.
Emails sent from Casavant detail his attempts to find an alternative solution.
“What about the zoo?” Casavant asks in a July 3 email.
“Negative,” the response reads. “Final decision has been made by (redacted) and you have rec’d direction re: what you need to do. I know how hard these scenarios are Bryce, and I appreciate your good intentions but sometimes this is the outcome we need to take.”
Two days later, Casavant is asked for an update on the “garbage habituated cubs.”
 Casavant responds that his assessment is that the cubs have “not accessed garbage,” due largely to their young age. 
“Furthermore, within the conflict matrix they have not posed a risk to public safety at this time and do not fall within the destruction category,” Casavant wrote on July 5. “My primary mandate is public safety and the immediate threat has been removed (ie. the sow). My duties as a law enforcement officer do not include the needless destruction of a baby animal that can be rehabilitated.”
Within an hour, Casavant is told via email that he has been removed from the file “effective immediately” and to transfer the bears to the care of another conservation officer.
“Please arrange immediate transfer of these bears … They need to be stored in a cool dark place with access to water until that transfer occurs,” the response email reads. “You do not have the authorization needed to transport those bears to Rehab center/Errington.”
In a final email Casavant makes it clear to his commanding officer, and several other recipients whose names have also been redacted, that he would not be following the orders.
“I will be maintaining carriage of this file until this situation is resolved,” he responds in an undated email. “The final result and my decision may be reviewed by management after with union representation. At this time I am operating within the full scope of my authorities and appointments. No NIZ officer is to obstruct me in the lawful execution of my duties.”
Casavant, who was based near Port Hardy, was suspended with pay earlier this week after refusing to kill the twin cubs, which have since been named Athena and Jordan.
His actions have garnered international attention, with English comedian Ricky Gervais even tweeting out “Reinstate this honourable man.”
An online petition calling on Environment Minister Mary Polak to reinstate him has garnered tens of thousands of signatures.
On Friday, the ministry said in an emailed statement that the situation is “difficult and unfortunate.”
“It is important to understand there are times when Conservation Officers must put down wild animals for the safety of the public and the welfare for the animal,” the statement read. “The Conservation Officers Service is investigating this specific situation, including the actions of its members, and we will not be providing further comment.”
The cubs, meanwhile, remain in a holding pen at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association awaiting their fate. Robin Campbell, the association’s founder and manager, said the cubs are doing well. 
“They have settled right in and doing what they are supposed to do,” he said, adding it is his belief that they would make good candidates for rehabilitation. 
Anonymous is a “loosely associated international network of activist and hacktivist entities,” according to Wikipedia. Past actions by the group have been followed up by YouTube videos confirming its involvement.
Editor's note: The Province removed a copy of the email chain from this story when it was pointed out redacted portions of the document contained live email links to those involved in the decision, in order to protect their privacy.
Source - The Province
Bear rehabber says B.C.’s 'ridiculous' policy of killing cubs not based on scientific reality
Vancouver Sun - B.C.’s most experienced rehabilitation specialist for black bears said Wednesday it is crazy for the Ministry of Environment to assert that two eight-week-old cubs on Vancouver Island needed to be killed because they’d become habituated to human food.
“It’s just ridiculous,” said Angelika Langen, co-founder of Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers. “There is absolutely no scientific proof that cubs that follow their mothers for (human) food at this age have learned anything.
“When they’re little like this they’re just following mom; they’re not learning yet. When they’re more than one year old it’s a totally different story.”
Langen said of the more than 300 black bears her facility has released in the past 25 years, not one has run into trouble by rummaging for human garbage. Bears receive ear tags and microchips to identify them after release.
“If one of our bears showed up and caused trouble, we’d be notified but we’ve never had a garbage bear. Not one,” she said. “And we’d hear about it.”
There’s been an outpouring of support for conservation officer Bryce Casavant, who was suspended without pay after sparing the lives of two black bear cubs near Port Hardy on Sunday.
The B.C. government has since revised those conditions to a suspension with pay pending an investigation into the incident.
The cubs’ mother was put down after repeatedly raiding a mobile home’s freezer of meat and fish.
Casavant refused to kill her cubs, choosing instead to tranquilize them and take them to a veterinary hospital. The brother and sister are now at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre.
Chris Doyle, acting deputy chief of the Conservation Officer Service, told a news conference in Victoria that due to the “number and nature” of wildlife complaints, it can be necessary to kill problem animals in the interest of public safety. Smaller cubs that are “suitable candidates” may be taken to rehabilitation facilities.
He said the early information in the Casavant case is that the bears “had some level of habituation and food conditioning.”
“We’re investigating the circumstances of that situation and all the actions that took place,” he concluded.
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 55,000 people had signed an online petition asking for the officer’s reinstatement.
Ricky Gervais, the British actor, comedian and animal rights advocate with nine million Twitter followers, has urged the government to “reinstate this honourable man.”
Soon-to-be published research by John Beecham, a consultant and retired bear biologist with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, found no evidence that captive-reared black bears from mothers with a known history of conflict behaviour were more prone to become involved in conflict than bears from mothers with no known history of conflict.
His study also found that only about six per cent of captive-reared black bears in seven jurisdictions in the U.S. and Ontario became involved in conflict situations. Hunting regulations are one of the main factors in determining cub survival. First-year survival rates post-release ranged from 50 to 90 per cent.
Langen accepts cubs up to 15 months old for release at 18 months, and has accepted cubs up to about 10 months old where the mother was shot specifically after seeking out human food.

Source:  The Vancouver Sun

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