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'It’s shocking': Former conservation officer files complaint after Coquitlam arrests during bear tracking

Last Updated Aug 8, 2019 at 9:57 am PDT

FILE: A black bear looks up from rifling through the garbage in the front yard of a home on July 6, 2014. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo, Becky Bohrer)

Former conservation officer files formal complaint after three people were arrested while 'obstructing' COs in Coquitlam

Bryce Casavant made headlines in 2015 for refusing to kill two cubs; he was later suspended

Casavant believes conservation officers overstepped

COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) – A former conservation officer has filed a formal complaint to the B.C. Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner over how officers and Mounties acted during the arrests of three people in Coquitlam last week.

Bryce Casavant believes the officers overstepped when the three neighbours, who were trying to stop conservation officers from killing a family of bears in the area, were taken into custody.

During the dramatic confrontation, the neighbours’ phones were also confiscated.

In a blog post, Casavant writes “As there is no police investigation and the parties have been released by the police, it was inappropriate for the police to give the seized phone away without judicial authorization. The phone needs to be immediately returned.”

He wants the “lawfulness” of the seizure to be investigated, and would also like claims that a conservation officer “forcefully dragged a senior citizen from his property” looked into.

The arrests took place while conservation officers were tracking a bear and her two cubs in the Chineside neighbourhood in late July.

Conservation officers said the three people were arrested because they were trying to get in the way of efforts to secure the bruins, which were eventually put down because they were heavily habituated and food conditioned.

“The three residents were actively interfering with officers and would not comply with the direction of officers,” the B.C. Conservation Officer Service said in July. “As a result, the three individuals were arrested as it is an offence to obstruct CO’s under the Wildlife Act.”

The trio has been unapologetic for trying to save the bears, and have been adamant that they didn’t do anything wrong.

The three bears were the ones that forced the partial closure of Mundy Park earlier in the month. At the time, conservation officers hoped to capture the animals humanely and safely relocate them.

Casavant made headlines in 2015 for refusing to kill two bear cubs while a conservation officer. He was later suspended.

-With files from Monika Gul and Mike Lloyd