Wildlife group wants body cams on B.C. conservation officers after 4,300 bears killed in 8 years

B.C.’s conservation officers have killed roughly 4,300 black bears and 160 grizzly bears since 2011

An environmental group is sounding the alarm over the number of bears and cougars killed by the B.C. Conservative Officer Service in recent years and calling for the province to outfit officers with body cameras while on the job.

B.C.’s conservation officers have killed roughly 4,300 black bears and 160 grizzly bears since 2011, according to provincial data. Roughly 780 cougars have also been killed.

In an open letter to Environment Minister George Heyman, Pacific Wild said it wants to see greater independent oversight of the actions by conservation officers, including the implementation of cameras by April 1.

“The current kill statistics are alarming and do not reflect the modern-day values of British Columbians,” the group’s executive director Ian McAllister said in a news release. “To provide transparency, ensure public trust and to protect the integrity of conservation officers, we are calling on the minister to make body-cameras mandatory and independent oversight a top priority for 2020.”

ALSO READ: Out on patrol with the BC COS

The open letter comes after the ministry released findings from an audit which looked at bear attractants in efforts to reduce human-wildlife conflicts in the province. The audit, which reviewed bear activity in the summer and fall of 2019 and resulted in more than 700 inspections, 75 warnings, and 355 orders for property owners to remove bear attractants.

At the time, Heyman said in a statement that “not a single conservation officer relishes the thought of having to put down an animal, which is always a last resort for public safety.”

But Bryce Casavant, a policy analyst with Pacific Wild and former conservation officer, said in a statement that he disagrees with Heyman, calling it “unreasonable to believe that, including juvenile bear cubs, over 4,000 black bears were killed ‘as a last resort.’”

ALSO READ: B.C. bear feeding crackdown finds hundreds of human offenders

In addition to body cameras, Pacific Wild is calling for the agency to suspend its use of ministerial communications and for the agency to be under regular independent review.

In an emailed statement to Black Press Media, the ministry said that public safety is the top priority when an officer deals with a wildlife conflict.

“Bears and cubs that have lost their fear of people, or are conditioned to human food sources, are not good candidates for relocation or rehabilitation, as they can be far too dangerous,” the statement reads.

The ministry did not say whether it is considering the use of body cameras but said that education is the best way to prevent wildlife conflicts and that it will complete another set of attractant audits in the spring.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘He has a home’, the tale of Ladysmith’s Turf Kitty

Chewy, also known as ‘Turf Kitty’, is a popular presence at Forrest Field

Downtown Ladysmith vehicle fire quickly extinguished

LFR Lieutenant Matt Rickett said that everyone involved responded exactly how they were supposed to

QUIZ: How much do you know about British Columbia?

On this B.C. Day long weekend, put your knowledge of our province to the test

Nanaimo-Ladysmith students will be going back to school full time in the fall in ‘learning groups’

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools to submit back-to-school plan to ministry in August

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Dinosaurs revived for animatronic auction in Langley

More than 500 robot dinosaurs, fossils, and exhibition gear are going on the block Aug. 6

B.C. paramedics responded to a record-breaking 2,700 overdose calls in July

Province pledges $10.5 million for expansion of overdose prevention response

Canada signs deals with Pfizer, Moderna to get doses of COVID-19 vaccines

Earlier in July both Pfizer and Moderna reported positive results from smaller trials

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

Cyclist in hospital after being hit by load of lumber hanging from truck on B.C. highway

A man is in hospital with broken ribs, punctured lung and a broken clavicle and scapula

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Most Read