|Photo: CBC News|
|RCMP officers were amused last year when the friendly bears came out to greet them as they raided a marijuana grow operation. Now they’ve woken up after a long winter’s nap — and they have a major case of the munchies.|
The infamous marijuana bears of British Columbia have woken after their winter hibernation, and they have the munchies — but they seem to be weaning themselves off dog food, according to the man who was once feeding them $100 of kibbles a day.
Allen Piche of Christina Lake, B.C., pleaded guilty in March to feeding the roughly two dozen wild black bears on his remote property after the B.C. Conservation Service last summer charged him and ordered him to stop, reports CBC News. Piche was charged after police found the mellow bears when they raided a marijuana grow operation on his property last August.
Initially there was speculation the bears might be guarding the cannabis crop, but Piche denied that.
|Photo: CBC News|
|Allen Piche: “I’m counting on the bears to do the right thing. So far, they have.”|
He was allowed to continue feeding the bears until they went into hibernation, but was ordered not to feed them when they woke up in the spring. If the bears couldn’t kick their dog foot habit, they might have to be shot, conservation officers said.
Most of the bears did come back to his remote property this spring, according to Piche, but once they figured out he wasn’t going to feed him, they left.
“I’ve had 80 percent of the bears come and now 80 percent are gone,” Piche said. “I’m counting on the bears to do the right thing. So far, they have.”
However, Piche said he is worried that the bears might come back this summer; they tend to return in early July after mating.
Piche, who describes himself as an “aging hippie,” said his former partner began feeding the bears, and he carried on when she was warned to stop because the bears kept returning.
The feeding continued for years until Piche was visited by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police last summer. RCMP officers arrested him and three others for allegedly tending a large outdoor marijuana growing operation.
That’s when the bears came ambling out of the forest and nuzzled up to police officers. One even sat on a police cruiser for awhile.
Piche has pleaded not guilty to the cannabis cultivation charge.