Public suspicious of COS’s demand to collar bear cubs

Two bear cubs who were rescued by a since-ostracized Conservation Officer are to be fitted with tracking collars before their release from rehabilitation, raising the hackles of wildlife lovers in BC.

The cubs, Jordan and Athena, were taken to North Island Wildlife Recovery then-Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant, defying the orders of his superiors. Now that the cubs have aged and plans for their release are being discussed, the Conservation Officer Service has announced they want the cubs to wear GPS collars – that the rehabbers will have to pay for.

“They’re interested in these two and not the other ones,” North Island's Julie Mackey told the Vancouver Sun’s Larry Pynn. “I guess because these ones got so much press and media, they want to know. They’re interested in where they go, if they return to a populated area.”

The GPS collars will come at a cost of $5,000 to $6,000 each, and North Islandis expected to foot the costs of that bill – something they have never done before.

“Our concern is that the two cubs are effectively being marked for death out of some sort of ‘institutional spite’ by the province as a reaction to the bear cubs being initially saved and all the resulting controversy (and bad publicity) the province endured,” Raincoast Conservation Foundation’s Chris Genovali was quoted as saying in The Sun.

A Ministry spokesperson even confirmed that collaring black bears is not standard operating procedure in the province. And it seems that the internet community agrees this move is out of order (from the Vancouver Sun comment section):

“The CO's have a big problem! They should be spending their limited staff and resources on enforcing the wildlife act, enviro laws and catching poachers! For some reason they spend time hassling rehabbers and citizens who spend time and their own money rescuing orphan cubs!”

“Out of spite, faceless bureaucrats force the rehab centre to pay and outfit the cubs with GPS collars (up to $15,000) upon their release! This sends a message that the government (your portfolios) is not willing to rescue or rehabilitate orphaned bear cubs. Also, that the rescuer or rehab centre may be penalized for interacting with wildlife in the future. This is a BIG step backwards. Please, stop this absurdity.“

“There's a lot better ways to spend $10000-$12000. Sounds a little vindictive to me.”

The public has been given little reason to trust the conservation officer service – particularly following the most recent case of a CO killing an orphaned bear cub near Dawson Creek. Fitting these two cubs with GPS trackers – while forcing rehabbers to cover the costs – is unprecedented. There may be a solid scientific reason for this move, but we haven’t heard it.

It’s time for the Conservation Officer Service to really understand that we expect more of them, and ultimately, bureaucrats answer to us – the public.

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