Remember Bryce Casavant, the conservation officer who was suspended after he refused to to kill two orphaned bear cubs?
It sparked international outrage and even animal lover Ricky Gervais has chimed in with his views.
Casavant was suspended without pay pending a performance investigation after he refused to put down two bear cubs last weekend.
Now Casavant has been transferred out of the conservation office.
The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) has filed a grievance.
“Our union has filed a grievance over Bryce Casavant’s original suspension. We are now in the process of filing a second grievance concerning his disciplinary transfer from the Conservation Officer Service,” says BCGEU President Stephanie Smith. “Bryce Casavant was following clear procedures when he decided to save these young bears. 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.”
“Casavant should not have been suspended, and he should not be transferred from his job as a Conservation Officer,” says Smith. “He has a distinguished record of public service in law enforcement. Bryce Casavant did the right thing when he decided these young bears should be assessed for rehabilitation.”
Casavant’s union has scheduled an arbitration hearing as soon as possible.
The baby bears, a brother and sister, were orphaned after their mother had to be destroyed after she had, at least twice, broken into a freezer of salmon and deer meat inside a mobile home on Hardy Bay Road, “through no fault of the owner.”
“Although it is unlikely the mother was in town due to the fire, it is hard to know,” said Casavant at the time.
On July 5, Casavant and members of the Port Hardy Fire Department literally pulled out all stops to rescue the babies who had come back to the property and were up a tree calling for their mother.
“They (firefighters) had their high-angle rescue specialist scale the tree and rappel down on top of the bears to lower them to me. I then tranquilized them by hand,” said Casavant.
A petition demanding Casavant be reinstated garnered more than 11,000 signatures.
Shortly after the cubs were tranquilized Casavant’s superiors received information that the young bears had also been into human food on the property so he was told the euthanize the cubs.
However the property owner told Casavant the bears had in fact not been into human food so Casavant made arrangements for the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association in Errington to take the bears.
“We said we would send our own people up there and retrieve them which we did and on the way back we started getting phone calls to hand them over,” said Robin Campbell of North Island Wildlife Recovery Association.
Casavant told CHEK News he was unable to comment to the media under rules of his suspension.
North island residents are supportive of Casavant and a petition at Change.org has already garnered thousands of petitions.
“He’s a really good conservation officer, someone with compassion you know and to learn that B race has been suspended without pay for saving two cubs is just, our community is outraged,” said Vi-Anne Roberts, the petition organizer.
In a statement to CHEK News, the Ministry of Environment said “We do not comment on personnel matter matters due to privacy and confidentiality reasons.”