A former conservation officer who was fired for refusing to shoot two bear cubs says he is feeling vindicated after a court ruled in his favor. In July 2015, Bryce Casavant had responded to a report of a black bear rummaging through a freezer at a home in Port Hardy, British Columbia. Casavant—a veteran of the Canadian military who served in Afghanistan—shot and killed the bear in line with a provincial policy aiming to prevent bears getting comfortable around humans, per the Guardian. But he refused an emailed order to kill the sow's two cubs, who onlookers said had not entered the home or eaten any food, reports the Victoria Times-Colonist. Instead, he sent the eight-week-old cubs to a veterinarian. They were transferred to a recovery center and later returned to the wild, while Casavant was fired for not following the order.
After a five-year legal battle, a three-judge panel at the BC Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in his favor. "Killing the cubs in these circumstances would be inconsistent with Ministry policy," reads the June 4 decision, per the Alberni Valley News. Judges also found proceedings related to Casavant's removal were improperly carried out, making them void. The judges did not reinstate Casavant but opted to "leave the parties to sort out the consequences." Casavant was shifted to a job with equal pay in the Ministry of Forests and Lands following an earlier settlement agreement. Casavant, who believes bears should only be killed as a last resort, says the decision is "vindication," per the Guardian. (Read more Canada stories.)