In search of a wild peace : introductory notes to a dissertation by portfolio
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A recent re-tabulation of government wildlife kill data reveals that British Columbia (BC) Conservation Officers, in the last 8 years (2011-2019), have killed 4,341 black bears, 162 grizzly bears, and 780 cougars (Casavant, 2020). These killing statistics raise broad questions about the appropriateness of individual officer’s killing actions and the overall role of Conservation Officers in BC society. BC Conservation Officers are employed by the BC Conservation Officer Service (BCCOS). The BCCOS is the lead environmental policing agency in BC. Conservation Officers hold unrestricted constabulary status under the BC Police Act and exercise a wide array of policing authorities, duties, and responsibilities when interacting with both humans and non-humans. This applied dissertation by portfolio advances two main arguments. First, it is argued that police constables within commonwealth countries have experienced a shift in allegiances from community centric principles towards ever advancing service of state apparatuses. Second, I posit that, in the case of the BCCOS, the archive shows deep roots to pro-hunting organizations that view wildlife as an economic asset to be exploited and killed. These pro-hunting ties uphold a modern cavalier approach to constable involved killings of non-humans (especially predators). The BCCOS killing of non-humans involves the use of government issued service weapons (i.e., firearms) and is, in my view, within the confines of use of lethal force. While use of force situations on humans and non-humans are sometimes unfortunate aspects of the job of a constable, allowing a culture of killing to develop within and dominate the organizational structures of law enforcement services is inappropriate and should be avoided at all costs. In order to advance a critical dialog about the role of environmental constables within modern society, it is necessary to understand and critically examine the history and roots of the organization under query (i.e., the BCCOS) – as this project has done. Ultimately, it is my view that constables are holders of an office and much more than mere employees of a government body. As holders of an office, constables have an obligation to protect those that are under their care – both human and non-human.