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Ex-B.C. conservation officer fired for refusing to kill bear cubs wins dismissal case

A former B.C. conservation officer who made international headlines by refusing to shoot two bear cubs in 2015 has been vindicated by the province's Court of Appeal after a five year court battle. Linda Aylesworth reports.

A B.C. conservation officer who made headlines in 2015 after he was fired for refusing to kill two bear cubs has won his fight over his dismissal in the province’s top court.

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Last week, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled that Bryce Casavant‘s dismissal should have been addressed under the Police Act since he’d been acting as a special provincial constable, and not under his collective agreement and the Labour Relations Board.

“It nullifies what’s happened,” Casavant told Global News on Tuesday, adding that he feels vindicated by the decision.

“Legally speaking, it’s like (the dismissal) never happened.”

READ MORE: Ricky Gervais tweets support for suspended conservation officer Bryce Casavant

Casavant was suspended from the service in 2015 and later dismissed after he euthanized a bear that had gotten into a mobile home in Port Hardy on Vancouver Island, but he refused to euthanize her two cubs.

Instead, he took them to a veterinarian and then to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Association near Parksville.

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The cubs were eventually released back into the wild.

READ MORE: B.C. couple who helped rescue emaciated bear cub won’t face legal action

The appeal court’s decision does not order the Conservation Officer Service to reinstate him.

“They don’t want to order me to do something that I might not want to do,” said Casavant, who took a job with the Ministry of Forests after he was fired and even ran for office in 2017.

“I think it was a soft approach to work out the consequences now.”

With his dismissal nullified, he is still technically a special constable appointed under the Police Act.

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“The legal ramifications of that now need to be worked out between my lawyer and the government’s legal team.”

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