Judge dismisses case against Conservation Officer after bear killed 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 judge has dismissed a non-profit organization request for a judicial review after a is B.C. Conservation Officer killed a black bear cub near Dawson Creek in May of 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.

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Wildlife conservation organization The Fur-Bearers argued in a Vancouver courtroom 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.”

In his ruling, Justice G.C. Weatherill stated that “In my view, the management of wildlife resources by conservation officers, as contemplated by the Wildlife Act, includes the authority to kill wildlife in circumstances broader than those set out in [Section 79 of the Wildlife Act].”

The Fur-Bearers posted on their website that they are disappointed in the decision made by the court, and would explore what their next steps are with legal counsel.

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