Target: Mary Polak, Minister of Environment for B.C.
Goal: Update the conservation officer service to provide stricter regulations for the use of lethal force in wildlife encounters.
An orphaned black bear cub was euthanized by a conservation officer despite the fact that a wildlife center had already offered to rehabilitate the cub and release it back into the wild. Local resident Tiana Jackson rescued the bear cub after she found it lying by the road near Dawson Creek, British Columbia, and brought it home to keep it safe while waiting for the conservation officer. Jackson kept the cub in a large kennel and gave it food and water, but when the conservation officer arrived less than two hours later he immediately administered a lethal injection despite Jackson’s claim that the bear was “very responsive, awake and alert.”
The Northern Lights Wildlife Society was willing to take in the bear cub but needed a conservation officer to approve the rehabilitation. The wildlife society allegedly tried several times to call the conservation officer but did not hear back until the bear had already been euthanized, at which point it was reported that the cub was unsuitable for rehab due to poor health. Jackson’s report conflicts with this statement, as she took several photos of the bear cub playing and seemingly healthy on her property. The Ministry of Environment defended the conservation officer and released a statement citing the dangers of interacting with wildlife; if a bear cub is treated in a way that makes it feel comfortable around humans, it can be a danger once it has grown.
While this concern is legitimate, is difficult to accept that death was the only option for this healthy bear cub. The Northern Lights Wildlife Society has successfully rehabilitated over 350 black bears over the course of 26 years, is currently caring for two other orphaned bear cubs, and would have been happy to take in a third. The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals has launched a campaign calling for “an open dialogue between the Ministry of Environment, stakeholders, and the general public, on the methodology and policies of the Conservation Officer Service.” This discussion of policies would help to increase transparency and minimize the growing public distrust of first responders. Sign the petition below to urge the Ministry of Environment to accept this proposal and provide stricter regulations for the use of lethal force in wildlife encounters.
Dear Ms. Polak,
A bear cub was euthanized by a conservation officer after the Northern Lights Wildlife Society had already offered to rehabilitate it and release it back into the wild. Resident Tania Jackson rescued the cub near Dawson Creek and brought it home to keep it from starving or getting lost while waiting for the conservation officer to arrive. Yet despite her claim that the bear was responsive, alert, and healthy, the officer chose to euthanize it immediately.
Human interaction with wildlife is a serious concern as it can lead a bear to feel dangerously comfortable around people once it has grown, but it is difficult to accept that this bear cub had no alternatives other than death after less than two hours of proximity to its rescuer. The Northern Lights Wildlife Society has successfully rehabilitated and released over 350 black bears over 26 years, and is currently taking care of two other orphaned bear cubs. Clearly this kind of rehabilitation can be safely undertaken, and the conflicting reports on the state of this bear cub’s health raise concerns about the Conservation Officer Service’s use of lethal force.
The Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals has requested an “open dialogue between the Ministry of Environment, stakeholders, and the general public, on the methodology and policies of the Conservation Officer Service.” I am urging you to accept this request in the interest of greater transparency and in the hope that it will minimize the public’s growing distrust of first responders. Please take action to update the conservation officer service and provide clear, strict regulations to ensure that lethal force is only used when absolutely necessary in wildlife encounters.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: RikkisRefuge Other