Raincoast/ELC report shows need for oversight, change at COS

BC’s armed conservation officers face no external complaint or review process, legal report notes.

Raincoast Conservation Foundation today released a report focused on the BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) prepared by the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) at the University of Victoria. The report was written to “propose law and policy reforms that would enhance wildlife management by increasing the accountability of the BCCOS as a whole and reducing the unnecessary killing of wildlife by conservation officers.”

The report draws from various media accounts, comparisons from other Canadian jurisdictions, and frequently from The Fur-Bearers’ court cases against the COS. The Fur-Bearers were proud to assist Raincoast and ELC authors.

Exploring how and why decisions are made – according to policy and public accounts – when it comes to how the COS interact with wildlife and people, as well as the processes (or lack thereof) for complaints and oversight of officers’ actions, the report authors make three primary recommendations:

  1. Improve Existing Policies and Procedures
  2. Incorporate Existing Policies and Procedures Into Regulation
  3. Introduce Independent Oversight by the BC Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner

The cases for these recommendations are well laid out (and include alternatives) and we strongly recommend that all wildlife advocates, animal lovers and community leaders read the report. It’s available by clicking here.

The Conservation Officer Service is an important and vital service for the province of British Columbia. But this report is another example of the need for change and evolution – and we’re glad to see more concerned parties join the call for reform. Thank you to Raincoast, the Environmental Law Centre, and all involved parties for their work on this important document.

The Fur-Bearers will be releasing our own analysis of our work on this issue, inclusive of our lengthy and costly legal interventions, in the near future.

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Established in 1953, The Fur-Bearers is a charitable, non-partisan organization whose goals are to end the commercial fur trade and promote solutions for wildlife coexistence in communities. Your donation is tax-deductible. Charitable registration number: 130006125RR0002

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