VICTORIA, B.C. — The B.C. government has released documents showing that 70 percent of officers in the B.C. Conservation Officer Service have hunting records, after repeatedly denying that such records exist.
According to an article in The Province, a freedom-of-information request was filed by former Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant, who refused an order to euthanize two black bear cubs on Vancouver Island three years ago. Casavant filed the FOI request as part of a research project in association with Royal Roads University in Victoria.
The documents released by the provincial government show that 75 of 106 uniform and patrol officers in the COS have hunting records, of which 48 purchased hunting licenses in 2017. Four officers were unsuccessful in their applications to obtain limited-entry draws to hunt grizzly bears, a hunt that has since been banned by the NDP government except for First Nations’ food, social, and ceremonial purposes.
Casavant is arguing that the large proportion of hunters working for the COS is evidence of a bias in favour of killing, rather than conserving animals in B.C. Between April and December last year, a total of 475 black bears were killed in the Province.
Last month a BC Supreme Court judge ruled that Conservation Officer Micah Kneller did not exceed the scope of his authority to kill an apparently orphaned black bear cub near Dawson Creek in May of 2016. The plaintiff in the case, The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals, has since said it plans to appeal the decision.
Spokesperson David Karns with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy said in a statement to The Province that, “part of the evaluation process for prospective employees includes ensuring values align with the role of a conservation officer. A desire to protect B.C.’s environment, and fish and wildlife resources, is essential.”