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Michelle Stilwell MLA Parksville-Qualicum Responds to Kill Order of Newborn Cubs by COS and Suspension of Officer Bryce Casavant

From: Barb Murray <[email protected]>
Date: 15 July, 2015 11:03:20 PM PDT
To: “<[email protected]>Cc: Jane Thornthwaite MLA <[email protected]>
Subject: Successful Interventions by previous Ministers/Premier in wrong minded COS cub killing policy

Dear Ms. Stilwell,

After your response to me I would like to share with you some background and the real possibility of a reprieve for the two orphan cubs in Errington and for other orphaned cubs across  BC. It appears you may not have been briefed fully by the COS or your support staff.

In this correspondence to you I will not be referring to any other bear over the age of 12mos old( only cubs of the year -COY). I believe your colleagues Ms. Jane Thornthwaite and Mr. Ralph Sultan may recall the successful public campaigns we waged on the North Shore to change the way COS handled orphaned cubs and how previous Ministers and Premier Campbell took a personal interest in orphan cub welfare. The Hansards are a good resource in this regard and the photo opts of politicians with cubs at both Critter Care-Langley and Northern Lights Wildlife Centre-Smithers.

The COS have historically ( and at present) not been predisposed  to rescue black bear COY ( or grizzly COY) because of their hunting culture, BB’s are not a conservation concern and live COY’s are costly and cumbersome  to deal with.

Categorizing COY’s as ‘garbage and habituated cubs’ is false and a red herring as these terms can not be properly applied to ‘cubs of the year’. Ask renowned bear rehabilitation experts: Dr.Beecham, Dr.Lynn Rogers, Charlie Russell, Benjamin Kilham, Else Poulsen, Dr. Gay Bradshaw, Robin Campbell, Angelika Langen, Mike McIntosh, Kip Parker( BC govt consultant in 2004/5) etc. etc.

In BC we have proven over and over again that with a concerted public outcry demanding compassion and humane treatment of animals by the gov’t( ie: Killing Orphan cubs on the North Shore in 2004/ Slaughtered Sled Dogs in Whistler 2011)  we can trump what the COS macho culture, budgetary constraints and personal opinions may be. Judging from the current petition of over 200,000 in a week, the Minister or Premier will need to make this right before they suffer much more political damage.  Also before the COS have their way and kill the two cubs at North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre to prove a point and destroy a good man’s career in public service. Officer Casavant represents a new generation of wildlife conservation officers.

Also We Finally NEED a  Province-Wide Policy on cub rehab rescues so that this political charged situation does not keep reappearing. ….these ‘COY kill’ decisions seem to be a case by case call and jurisdiction by jurisdiction.  No rhyme nor reason except when there are camera’s rolling and the public is involved ( and a rehabber has room), the cubs are ‘usually’ saved.   If in remote area without public involvement the cubs are ‘dispatched’ (killed) quietly. Why did the COS bosses want the Port Hardy cubs killed when media and firemen involved?  I am puzzled.  It may be a strategy to get more attention and budgets from the Ministries that COS report to ? Since 2001 their department has been cut year after year until it is bare bones with no one wanting to take over the senior CO job. Since the massive FLNR Ministry captured the wildlife branch things have gone from bad to worse for the guys and gals in the COS.

So something is amiss  within the COS to bring this kind of negative attention to both FLNR and Eniro Ministries and stalling to resolve issue quickly?

I believe it is the same staffers within the Wildlife Branch/COS today in Victoria issuing the ‘kill’ orders as were there in 2004.  They have continued to give ‘kill’ orders when they can get away with it…but this time the camera’s were rolling and Officer Casavant did the right thing otherwise the public would have called for him to be fired and he would have been branded forever as a terrible uncaring person not doing his job. He was in a no-win situation with his family, friends, community, media etc. if he had killed those cubs.

If you check, in the late 90’s, before I became a bear advocate in 2001, I believe a Minister of Enviro had to resign when the COS killed a COY which was going to be flown to Smithers rehab centre.

Please peruse the clippings and photos below (see Letter to Editor of PQ News Blog Posting) and understand that public pressure ‘can make things right-scientifically and morally’.  We were able to correct the Conservation Officer Service’s COY kill policy for the lower Mainland in 2004 and Critter Care was given a bear rehab license.

Enviro Minister’s Barisoff, Penner and Premier Campbell embraced cub rehab in both urban and remote regions, Premier Campbell publicly promised $400k for ‘urban’ orphaned cubs  in his election campaign 2005 and then again promised the same $400K in his campaign in 2009. Grouse Mountain’s vet Ken Mcquisten convinced the COS, Tony Hamilton, prov vet Helen H and Premier Campbell that they should be given a rehab license and grant for urban cub rehab. The rehab proposal never was realized as the District of North Vancouver rejected a re-zoning application in 2009. I opposed the proposal and helped return the promised 400K govt grant money to the Bear Aware program.

I hope you can help North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre do their job and Officer Casavant to be reinstated, without retribution.

If you would like clarification on any events sighted in this letter or regarding the science behind bear rehabilitation please don’t hesitate to ask. I can have the appropriate expert contact you or I can give you the clarification you may seek.

Sincerely yours,

Barb Murray

Bears Matter

[email protected]


From: Stilwell.MLA, Michelle [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 3:37 PM
To: Barb Murray
Subject: Bears


Thank you for contacting me and sharing your concerns. I appreciate it when constituents take the time to let me know what their key issues are in our community or Province at any given time.

This is a very sad and unfortunate situation with the mother bear and her cubs near Port Hardy.

Although Conservation Officers must sometimes put down wild animals for the safety of the public and the welfare of the animal, we understand how difficult it is for all involved.

I love animals and this story tears at my heart strings to think two baby bears might have been shot, but the decision about how this would be managed will be made by the conservation officers corps, not by politicians.

The conservation service operates very much like the RCMP. They make their own decisions in directing and hiring and firing their own staff.

I think animals have a soft spot in everyone’s heart, which is why we put $5m into the SPCA in our last budget because we want to try and protect orphaned and vulnerable creatures. In June, we also provided $135,000 to support the recovery of the Vancouver Island marmot over the next two years.

Our Conservation Officers provide the highest level of public safety and natural resource law enforcement service possible.

These very difficult decisions for animal relocation suitability are made by professionals including senior wildlife biologists and the provincial wildlife veterinarian, along with conservation officers.

The Conservation Officer Service is investigating this situation, including the actions of its members.

We will share information about the status and welfare of the cubs as it becomes available.

Warmest wishes,

Michelle Stilwell,

MLA, Parksville-Qualicum



1 thought on “Michelle Stilwell MLA Parksville-Qualicum Responds to Kill Order of Newborn Cubs by COS and Suspension of Officer Bryce Casavant”

  1. What come up over and over is the killing for public safety and everyone just falls for it. What is safety. How can we judge something when it has done nothing dangerous and has not harmed someone.. If a person leaves a freezer of meat in a situation where a bear can get at it, it seems a stupidity of that person and that person should take the loss not revenge on the bear.
    That is a tough question. Why have I never had to kill something for my safety. The Basic conclusion I have to make is people have these fears and we kill everything because we fear them and not allow ourselves to learn from them. If we want to grow and evolve on this planet we are going to have to look at the fears we project to the outside world and not destroy every potential animal.. Why do we not fear being on a dangerous highway when opposite cars are flying by us at 100 km an hour. It is definitely more dangerous and hundreds of people die in motor vehicle accidents yearly. Problem is the media and stories have spread for years with out hands on approach. Wake up world!

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