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B.C. group wants conservation officers to wear body cams to prevent bear deaths

Last Updated Jan 5, 2020 at 12:06 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)

The group is advocating for this move as a way to ensure accountability when conservation officers kill animals

They say in some cases there are alternatives to euthanizing animals and cams capture if action taken is 'appropriate'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A B.C.-based environmental group is calling for conservation officers across the province to be outfitted with body cams.

Pacific Wild is advocating for this move as a way to ensure accountability when officers kill animals that wander into local communities.

The number of animals, such as bears, being put down by conservation officers is “alarming,” says senior policy analyst Bryce Casavant.

“It shows a trend of killing animals instead of pursuing alternative actions, and arguably some of these situations are not appropriate.”

In the the Lower Mainland area spanning Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody officers have put down around 30 bears since April.

“Many of these animals are killed by officers with their service weapons. So, we have literally thousands of instances where firearms and service weapons are being discharged in an urban environment and nobody is able to review those actions,” Casavant explains.

“Dash cameras in patrol vehicles and body cameras on individual officers help government executive staff, as well as independent oversight boards, ensure that an officer’s actions are appropriate.”

The provincial government has been urging local communities to become more “bear smart” which includes calls for more management plans and bear-proof waste management systems.

With files from Tarnjit Parmar