An Anmore, B.C. couple that helped rescue an emaciated black bear cub they found on their back deck won’t be facing legal reprecussions after all.
Corrine and Michael Robson found the cub last Wednesday night, but the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) refused to transport it to a local wildlife rescue group that had offered to take it in.
Despite a warning from the COS, the couple contacted non-profit the Fur Bearers, and Michael travelled with them to transport the cub to the Critter Care Wildlife Society.
When he got back, a CO was waiting for him, and told him he could face charges for interfering with wildlife.
The COS has since walked that back. Michael says he got a call from the service’s deputy chief Sunday, telling him he was not under investigation.
“He said I would no longer be facing any enforcement action, and he said this story had taken on a life of its own and he was going to have a meeting with the staff and discuss what went wrong and how they could change to make things better next time,” said Michael.
“I didn’t get an apology. But I asked him to apologize to my wife, which he did.”
The Ministry of Environment also issued a brief statement on behalf of the COS.
“The Conservation Officer Service acknowledges that clear communications and a thoughtful approach to the people who care about wildlife is critical in achieving positive results.”
Bryce Casavant, the former B.C. conservation officer who made headlines when he was disciplined for refusing to kill a pair of bear cubs, said the COS was “completely wrong” in this case.
“Any law enforcement officer that makes early accusations with no investigation is setting themselves and the service up for failure,” he told Global News.
“In the video that was publicly released you clearly see that the driver of the vehicle is not Michael or his wife,” he added.
“That individual is a qualified professional rehabber, who has years of experience with wildlife and has a longstanding history of volunteer work with Critter Care which is a permitted and authorized facility in British Columbia.”
Fur Bearers spokesperson Michael Howie called the apology a good first step, but said he will wait and see whether the COS implements the necessary policy and training to win back public trust.
Michael also says he’s not convinced the incident will spark change.
“I feel like it’s sort of a lame apology,” he said.
“They’re going to say that, but it’s going to be business as usual next week.”