Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Marijuana-guarding Bears Wake Up with The Munchies

The Chronicle reported last month about a man in British Colombia, Canada that used dog food to bribe wild black bears into guarding his marijuana growing operation. Allen Piche, also known as The Bear Dude, pleaded guilty to feeding the bears back in March and will be sentenced this spring, but in the meantime he's been ordered to stop the feedings which consisted of $100 worth of kibble every day.

Piche was allowed to keep feeding the bears until they went into hibernation at the beginning of last winter, but now the bears are waking up to find their breakfast missing. Wildlife officials were worried that the bears had become too reliant on the food source and would have to be shot if they couldn't learn to forage naturally.

So far the bears appear to have left the area in search of food, which is what officials were hoping for.

Piche told CBC News that most of the animals did return to his remote property this spring, but once they understood he was not going to feed them, they just left.

"'I'll show you the records," Piche said. "I've had 80 per cent of the bears come and now 80 per cent are gone. I'm counting on the bears to do the right thing. So far, they have."

Piche says he's worried about this summer when the bears normally come back en masse after their normal mating period. 

Piche, a self-described "aging hippie" said his former partner began the bear feedings, and he carried on when she was warned to stop because the bears kept coming back.

The feeding went on for years and likely would have continued had Piche not been visited by the RCMP last summer. Police arrested him and three others for allegedly tending to a large outdoor marijuana grow-op.

Piche has pleaded not guilty to the grow-op charge.
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