Re. "Anmore couple rescues bear cub but faces BC Conservation investigation" and "Anmore couple that helped bear cub not in trouble" (tricitynews.com).
It is heartwarming to know a bear cub got a second chance for life because an Anmore couple would not sit by and let it perish.
But I am not at all surprised by the reaction from the BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS). This couple had done everything it could, calling BCCOS, calling wildlife rescue, calling animal welfare. And they didn't take things into their own hands — they waited for a qualified rescuer to pick up the bear and only provide support for transportation.
What did they receive? A public smear that no one should act like them to interfere with wildlife. And an investigation that could result in a fine or even jail time. (Editor's note: BCCOS has now said it is no longer investigating the couple.)
Compassion is not a crime. This couple should not be punished for failure to act by BCCOS and the outdated BC Wildlife Act that never really prevents harm and provides protection to wildlife.
I can understand why BCCOS reacted in this way. Any organization that is tight-knit, opaque and self-regulated will always develop into a toxic culture, with abuse of power and lack of accountability. It would bully anyone into silence and give up opposition if it had its way.
It is time to disband the BCCOS, at least in Lower Mainland, and set up an agency dedicated to real conservation, with biologists, technicians and front-line researchers; an agency staffed by people who understand wildlife biology, ecology and with critical thinking skills, under the supervision of a public oversight body, held accountable to service the community.
I am sick of the arrogance of BCCOS with its utter disregard towards our local communities. We should band together and demand respect from BCCOS when it is carrying out activities in our jurisdiction until a more professional, transparent and accountable agency takes its place.
Ying Yan Zhu, North Vancouver