Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to Mary Polak, Minister of Environment, and submitted to the Invermere Valley Echo for publication. As of The Echo’s Monday press deadline, the conservation officer Bryce Casavant was still suspended for refusing to kill two bear cubs, a story that’s been making international headlines for the past week.
Dear Environment Minister Mary Polak:
We are writing with regard to the issue of Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant being suspended without pay for saving the lives of two bear cubs in Port Hardy, B.C. We are ashamed at how wildlife issues are “managed” in this province.
We have witnessed too many deaths of wildlife at the hands of conservation officers who are acting in accordance with the policies set out by our provincial government.
We want you to know that this ongoing slaughter is not missed or ignored by us or many other residents of this province. It is entirely anthropocentric, inhumane and short-sighted to believe that we have the right to exterminate other animals in the name of convenience and economy.
Every year, hundreds of healthy bears, bear cubs, coyotes, coyote pups, cougars, wolves and so on are killed in our province by this government.
We have spoken personally and at length with many conservation officers and have heard all of the justifications and rationales. We are tired of hearing how these animals are a threat to human safety. It is we humans who are the biggest threat.
In fact, here in Kamloops a few years ago, two rescued bear cubs were taken to our Wildlife Park and were slaughtered upon their arrival due to government policy. Minutes after their extermination, the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter called to say they had heard of the bear cub rescue and were ready and willing to send someone down to pick up the cubs and transport them to the wildlife shelter. The shelter was informed that the bear cubs had already been killed.
We also know, having spoken to operators of the wildlife shelters in BC, that many of them receive government funding and that even they are therefore obligated to toe your unethical line.
We want you to know that we are two citizens of this province who are outraged at your policies and practices. We are disappointed that you would condone the slaughter of these two cubs and the castigation of Officer Casavant.
You should be commending Officer Casavant for his forward-thinking, progressive, compassionate refusal to carry out your anthropocentric policies. We salute Officer Casavant for his courage to stand up for what is right and we believe he should not only be immediately reinstated to his job (with back pay), but that you should promote him to be your consultant and advisor on the humane, sane and compassionate treatment and stewardship of our wildlife brethren.
Sandi Mikuse and Claudette Laffey
Advocates for Urban Wildlife