B.C. man denies taming bears to guard grow-op
Published Monday, September 6, 2010 4:45PM EDT
A British Columbia man accused of training more than a dozen bears to guard his marijuana grow operation says the allegations are "a total fantasy."
About 15 bears were found roaming around Allan Piche's property near Christina Lake during a raid last month. One even lay sprawled on a police cruiser.
Police believe the semi-tame animals were used to guard the grow-op – a story that made headlines around the world.
As a result, Piche says, "I had hate mail, hate mail, hate mail."
He says the animals have been hanging around his home for roughly a decade, ever since he started feeding an old bear that seemed to be asking him to.
A video of Piche feeding the bears dog food went viral last week. In it, Piche says he's had a "wonderful time" with as many as 24 bears over the years.
While Piche's neighbours don't seem overly concerned about the bears, conservation officials are.
Authorities originally planned to put down the bears out of concern for public safety. In the end, conservation officials agreed to let Piche continue to feed the bears until they go into hibernation, provided he fences off his property to keep them from returning.
"We're going to monitor the neighbourhood, we're going to talk to people, we're going to see if any bears are causing trouble," he told CTV's Kent Molgat near Christina Lake.
If they are, "they're going to have to be destroyed."
Piche, who may face charges for potential violations of the Wildlife Act as well as charges related to the grow-op, says he already intended to cut ties with the bears. The agreement will simply force him to do it faster.
Meanwhile, he admits one of the stories about him is true: he does have a pet raccoon, which he says likes to sleep on his bed.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Kent Molgat