North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre co-founder Robin Campbell is pictured with the famous bear cubs just before their release on Friday.

Bear cubs spared from death by conservation officer released into the wild

Conservation officer Bryce Casavant was suspended for not following orders to shoot the bears near Port Hardy in July of 2015

Jordan and Athena are free.

The bear cubs made famous worldwide by a conservation officer who was suspended after refusing to shoot them in July of 2015 have gained weight and were in good health after a year at the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre (NIWRC) in Errington, according to one of NIWRC’s founders, Sylvia Campbell.

They were released into the wild on Friday.

“Today was a good day,” Campbell said after the bears were released. “Body condition showed they were in excellent condition, with both showing a good weight gain and fat layer.”

In July of 2015, Conservation Officer Bryce Casavant won the hearts of animal lovers everywhere when he opted not to shoot the cubs after their mother was destroyed for repeatedly raiding a home near Port Hardy. The Conservation Service’s deputy chief Chris Doyle said in April he doesn’t believe anything was wrong with a policy that suspended Casavant and later transferred him for refusing an order that he kill a pair of cubs deemed habituated to humans.

Casavant launched a grievance after he was first suspended, then transferred out of the CO service and into another department following his actions in defiance of provincial orders. According to his union, the grievance was dropped.

Boosted by the support of British comedian Ricky Gervais, an online petition for Casavant’s reinstatement eventually passed a total of 300,000 signatures.

The location of the cubs’ release Friday remains a secret. Campbell said veterinarian Helen Schwantje and the Ministry of Environment’s Sean Pendergast, along with a conservation officer were in charge of the bear’s release.

“Blood samples plus hair follicles were taken for a DNA database, as well as neck and chest measurements,” said Campbell, describing the time just before Jordan and Athena were released. “Sexes were determined and ear tag numbers were verified to determine that indeed these were the correct bears being released (NIWRC currently has eight bear cubs in their care).”

Satellite collars were placed on the bears to be tracked by the Ministry of Environment and NIWRA,” said Campbell. “The collars are designed to eventually fall off.”

— with files from Black Press

Just Posted

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

Victoria feels the pinch at the pump as gas prices jump 18 cents

Gas up to 157.9 cents per litre at some stations

‘Panda’ Goodlife runner searches for his head

Facebook post for help leads to ‘unconfirmed panda head sightings’

Former child care worker charged with Saanich sexual assault pleads guilty

Jesse Doig arrested in May, remaining in custody since

For Central Saanich couple, fight against MS is a matter of family

Altenkirks sell greeting cards and wooden bowls to raise money for MS Society

WATCH: Greater Victoria’s top stories of the day

A round-up of the day’s top stories

UPDATE: British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in U.S. after crossing border

CBP claims individuals were denied travel authorization, crossing was deliberate

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

POLL: Do you think the day of the federal election should be a statutory holiday?

Increasing voter turnout has long been a goal of officials across the… Continue reading

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Two Cowichan Tribes families devastated by duplex fire

Carla Sylvester sat in her vehicle, on Tuesday morning, with tears in… Continue reading

Most Read