Wildlife non-profit taking Conservation Officer Service to court over killing of black bear cub near Dawson Creek

A bear cub rescued by a family near Dawson Creek was euthanized by a conservation officer who said the animal could not be rehabilitated. Photo by Tiana Jackson/Facebook

VANCOUVER, B.C. – A non-profit organization is taking the B.C. Conservation Officer Service to court, arguing that a Conservation Officer illegally killed a black bear cub near Dawson Creek in May 2016.

On May 6, 2016, a woman called the RCMP when she found an apparently abandoned bear cub lying on a gravel road near her home about 50 kilometres from Dawson Creek. The RCMP routed the call to a Conservation Officer, who said he was a two-hour drive from their location. After the mother bear didn’t return, the woman and her brother reportedly brought the cub home and penned it in a dog kennel and gave it food and water while they waited for the officer.

When the conservation officer called for an update, the woman told him they had taken the cub to her home. At the point, the officer explained to her that the cub would have to be put down. Despite arranging for the bear to be accepted at the Northern Lights Wildlife Society in Smithers the officer refused, saying that “bears can’t be rehabilitated.” The officer euthanized the bear via injection when he arrived.

Wildlife conservation organization The Fur-Bearers will argue in a Vancouver courtroom today that Conservation Officer Micah Kneller was not permitted to kill the bear cub because the Wildlife Act only permits officers to euthanize animals that are likely to harm persons, property, or wildlife. The Province takes the position that there are no legal limits on the ability of Conservation Officers to kill bear cubs.

“This is about the Conservation Officer Service obeying the law,” says Lesley Fox, Executive Director of The Fur-Bearers. “The notion that Conservation Officers may kill any wild animal, with no legal limits on their ability to do so, is repugnant to most British Columbians. This bear cub deserved a second chance, but he was denied that chance by the Conservation Officer Service’s callous and unlawful decision to kill him.”

The two-day hearing will begin at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday at the Law Courts in downtown Vancouver.