VICTORIA – A conservation officer in British Columbia credited with sparing the lives of two orphaned bear cubs apparently told his superiors that his duties don’t include the needless killing of a baby animal.
An anonymous source provided a number of media outlets with what it says is an email exchange between Bryce Casavant and officials at British Columbia’s environment ministry.
It has been reported that Casavant was suspended for refusing an order to destroy the cubs last weekend along with their mother, who raided a meat freezer at a home in the Vancouver Island community of Port Hardy.
A government spokesman would not confirm or deny the authenticity of the emails, which are dated July 3-5 and are purportedly between Casavant and an official whose name is blacked out.
It’s not known when a decision will be made on the fate of the cubs, named Athena and Jordan — the government is reviewing the incident and the bears’ future.
In the purported email exchange the unnamed official expresses appreciation for Casavant’s good intentions but said killing the cubs is necessary “for public safety and most humane for these bears in the long run.”
Earlier in the exchange, a purported Casavant email indicates he appeared to know his actions would be second-guessed, saying his decision might be reviewed by his superiors, but defended his handling of the matter, saying his job doesn’t “include the needless destruction of a baby animal that can be rehabilitated.”
There have been reports that Casavant was suspended for refusing to follow orders — the head of B.C.’s conservation officer service did not dispute the reports, but said he couldn’t discuss what he said was a personnel matter.
The cubs are at a wildlife recovery facility near Nanaimo and the director of the operation, Robin Campbell, said earlier this week that they’re doing well.
Campbell called Casavant’s actions heroic and called for the officer to be reinstated.
Casavant’s actions have generated widespread publicity and sympathy — about 50,000 people have signed an online petition asking that Casavant be reinstated.
Although the government didn’t speak to the emails’ authenticity, it did say its system was not hacked.
The source of the leaks identified itself only as “Hack-we-are-anonymous.”