A wildlife advocacy group has asked BC Public Service Agency to investigate a provincial biologist and others involved in what they say was a “highly inappropriate” decision to give two orphaned fawns to a company that trains wildlife for the entertainment industry.
The Fur-Bearers issued the formal complaint to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRORD) after a freedom of information request.
The organization claims a government wildlife biologist recommended handing over two fawns captured by the Conservation Officer Service in Roberts Creek to Beyond Bears, an Abbotsford business that trains animals for film and television.
According to the Fur-Bearers’ complaint, “the ownership of all wildlife in B.C. is in care of public trust,” as determined by the Wildlife Act.
The Fur-Bearers claims the biologist’s recommendation amounted to “lobbying for commercial interests over public interests.”
“It is highly inappropriate for a wildlife biologist to exercise the property rights of the B.C. government and give live animals away to a private company. This is especially true when the benefactor is a commercial entity who will gain financially during the life cycle of the animal in question. Of greatest concern is the use of statutory authority for private commercial interests when the legislative structure is public interest in nature,” said the complaint.
The intent of the complaint is to establish whether such transfers are systemic and to achieve “reassurance that this never happens again,” Lesley Fox, executive director of the Fur-Bearers, told Coast Reporter.
“B.C. is not a grocery store for wildlife. Shopping for wildlife is closed.”
FLNRORD has not responded to Coast Reporter’s request for comment.
The COS rescued the orphaned fawns from a Roberts Creek property in May after a cougar killed their mother. At the time, Coast Reporter reported the fawns were transferred to Beyond Bears after a regional biologist was contacted.
Following outcry from wildlife advocates, including from the Fur-Bearers, the two fawns were rerouted to a wildlife rehabilitation centre after spending two weeks with the permitted company.
At the time, FLNRORD said the decision to relocate the fawns was made “after reviewing all available information.”
It’s permitted under the Wildlife Act to possess and transport live wildlife for filming purposes.