Wildlife group wants body cams on B.C. conservation officers after 4,300 bears killed in 8 years

Wildlife group wants body cams on B.C. conservation officers after 4,300 bears killed in 8 years

B.C.’s conservation officers have killed roughly 4,300 black bears and 160 grizzly bears since 2011

An environmental group is sounding the alarm over the number of bears and cougars killed by the B.C. Conservative Officer Service in recent years and calling for the province to outfit officers with body cameras while on the job.

B.C.’s conservation officers have killed roughly 4,300 black bears and 160 grizzly bears since 2011, according to provincial data. Roughly 780 cougars have also been killed.

In an open letter to Environment Minister George Heyman, Pacific Wild said it wants to see greater independent oversight of the actions by conservation officers, including the implementation of cameras by April 1.

“The current kill statistics are alarming and do not reflect the modern-day values of British Columbians,” the group’s executive director Ian McAllister said in a news release. “To provide transparency, ensure public trust and to protect the integrity of conservation officers, we are calling on the minister to make body-cameras mandatory and independent oversight a top priority for 2020.”

ALSO READ: Out on patrol with the BC COS

The open letter comes after the ministry released findings from an audit which looked at bear attractants in efforts to reduce human-wildlife conflicts in the province. The audit, which reviewed bear activity in the summer and fall of 2019 and resulted in more than 700 inspections, 75 warnings, and 355 orders for property owners to remove bear attractants.

At the time, Heyman said in a statement that “not a single conservation officer relishes the thought of having to put down an animal, which is always a last resort for public safety.”

But Bryce Casavant, a policy analyst with Pacific Wild and former conservation officer, said in a statement that he disagrees with Heyman, calling it “unreasonable to believe that, including juvenile bear cubs, over 4,000 black bears were killed ‘as a last resort.’”

ALSO READ: B.C. bear feeding crackdown finds hundreds of human offenders

In addition to body cameras, Pacific Wild is calling for the agency to suspend its use of ministerial communications and for the agency to be under regular independent review.

In an emailed statement to Black Press Media, the ministry said that public safety is the top priority when an officer deals with a wildlife conflict.

“Bears and cubs that have lost their fear of people, or are conditioned to human food sources, are not good candidates for relocation or rehabilitation, as they can be far too dangerous,” the statement reads.

The ministry did not say whether it is considering the use of body cameras but said that education is the best way to prevent wildlife conflicts and that it will complete another set of attractant audits in the spring.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

The Fraser Institute’s annual report card on B.C. elementary schools ranks schools across the province based on standardized tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Fraser Institute delivers Greater Victoria elementary schools a mixed report card

The annual report card compares test scores of schools across the province

Higher sales of cannabis helped Canadian farmers come out in the green. (Black Press Media File)
Higher cannabis sales grew the income of Canadian farmers

Higher cannabis receipts added $1.7 billion to the revenue of farmers

Island Health has confirmed the first long term care facility outbreak in Greater Victoria at Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich. (Google Maps)
Island Health records first long-term care COVID outbreak in Greater Victoria

Veterans Memorial Lodge in Saanich confirms one positive staff member

Itty, a Siamese cat, has been missing since a house fire in Victoria’s Fernwood neighbourhood on Friday, Nov. 27. Her owner says she has white fur with blonde and grey markings. (Facebook/ROAM)
Cat goes missing after house fire in Fernwood neighbourhood

‘Itty’ has white fur, blonde and grey markings and blue eyes

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Most Read