The deadline for the public consultation process on the Grizzly Bear hunt is tomorrow (November 2nd 2017). During the month long window for public comments the Auditor General (AG) released their audit report pertaining to BC’s management of Grizzly Bears. This blog and the PDF link below, are my submissions to the MFLNRORD public consultation process regarding Grizzly Bear management.
The PDF file referenced below is an updated version of my previous work In Defence of a Fallen King which was written as a submission to the AG during her investigation. The update includes my thoughts on two points raised within the AG report, and maintains my critique of BC’s so called “scientific review” under the previous government administration.
The two points that I will focus on are, 1) the independence of internal reviews conducted by consultants, and 2) the Conservation Officer Service and its relationship to species conservation. Within this update I reference my recently released essay To Conserve and Protect and provide a preliminary look at a soon to be released technical report pertaining to public confidence levels and wildlife law enforcement in BC. Some main take away points from this update are:
- I recommend that a special conflict of interest or ethics guideline/policy be developed for public servants engaged with work on the grizzly bear file or in the development of formal BC policy on this issue.
- I maintain that providing additional funding and officers into the current COS model is not advisable due to internal cultural issues and processes which I addressed in my recent essay To Conserve and Protect.
- I argue that the model of the COS needs to change before overall public confidence can be increased and maintained.
- I contend that it is not realistic to think that an officer who is a licenced hunter, and in some cases a trophy hunter himself/herself, can avoid a reasonable apprehension of bias when deciding to kill a grizzly bear.
- In reference to the BCCOS involved in funding allocation to WildSafe BC – I posit that from a law enforcement and integrity perspective, it is problematic to have armed officers that are licenced hunters, in some cases trophy hunters, who are also members of the BCWF and overseeing/making recommendations for government funding to BCWF wildlife programs and their affiliates. This, in my view, is a conflict of interest for law enforcement. For this reason, I would recommend an independent panel be responsible for directing, monitoring, and assessing/evaluating the programs that the government funds. The COS should not be responsible or involved.
- In the final portion of my update I state that my soon to be released report, Law Gone Wild, will show that 1 in 5 British Columbians will have an interaction with either the COS or RCMP over a wildlife concern, some of these interactions will be grizzly bears. I will argue that the fact 20% of the BC population is involved in calling enforcement agencies for wildlife issues means that public trust in 20% of the BC population can be influenced by a single officer’s actions, at a single moment in time, and when handling a single animal. All managers and politicians should take this fact very seriously. The public’s confidence in the agency and officer’s responding is paramount to the maintenance of overall public trust.
As always, I’m only an email away. Bryce@BryceCasavant.ca
Bryce J. Casavant, CMAS, MA
The views and opinions expressed in this publication are my own and do not reflect the views of the BC Public Service or its ministries.
Bryce Casavant is a Senior Compliance and Enforcement Specialist with the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development. He is a former BC Conservation Officer and Special Provincial Constable. Bryce is a decorated military veteran and Doctoral Candidate at Royal Roads University’s Doctor of Social Sciences Program. His research focus is on public trust and wildlife policing in BC. Bryce was a candidate for the New Democratic Party in the 2017 BC Provincial Elections.