Court asked to review limits on B.C. conservation officers’ power to kill wildlife

The case stems from when a bear cub was put down in 2016

An animal advocacy group is asking the country’s top court to review a previous ruling that found B.C. conservation officers have the “unlimited authority” to kill wildlife.

The group, known as the Fur-Bearers, filed their application for leave to appeal in the Supreme Court of Canada on Monday, following the B.C. Supreme Court’s dismissal of a similar lawsuit late last year.

According to the B.C.-based group, a conservation officer euthanized a black bear cub near Dawson Creek in 2016, even though staff at a wildlife centre in Smithers had agreed to take it in.

The group argues the cub was “vulnerable [and] orphaned” and posed no danger to anyone.

Last year, the B.C. Supreme Court judge said it was “inconceivable” that lawmakers meant to prevent conservation officers’ powers to killing animals that are “at large and are likely to harm.”

The group said it was worried officers would kill animals in circumstances most people would find “inappropriate, and even immoral.”

Executive director Lesley Fox questioned why the officers do not have an external or third-party review. The 2016 case was reviewed twice internally, the group said, with both reviews supporting the decision to kill the bear cub.

“We believe that conservation officers, who are law enforcement agents and not wildlife experts or rehabilitators, should not be the only ones determining whether an animal should be sent to rehabilitation for care and release, or killed,” said Fox.

“Canadians see animals as sentient beings that must be treated with compassion and in accordance with shared values.”


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