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

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

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

Just Posted

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fairy Creek protesters gather at Victoria courthouse

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read