British Columbia

B.C.'s famous 'pot bears' likely killed

B.C. conservation officers shot 17 bears in the Christina Lake area this summer, and they suspect many were the famous "pot bears" found at a marijuana grow-op in 2010.
Allen Piche feeds two bears a bucket load of dog food on his rural property in this video posted on Vimeo.

B.C. conservation officers shot 17 bears in the Christina Lake area this summer, and they suspect many were the famous "pot bears" found at a marijuana grow-op last year.

Insp. Aaron Canuel says three times the number of bears were euthanized in the area this year, compared to past years. Most were shot because they had become a nuisance and were too comfortable with people, he said.

"A lot of the bears that we've had to destroy were severely habituated. They weren't showing fear of humans at all. They were causing property damage; they were getting into trouble in RV parks. At that point we had no other option but to humanely destroy them," said Canuel.

Grace McGregor, the Regional District director for Christina Lake, says the bears had been hanging around people's homes and cottages, begging for food. She says one even tried to pry its way into a fridge on an RV patio.  

"[The bear] was rocking the fifth wheel and scared the poor woman half to death inside," said McGregor.  

The number of bears destroyed indicates some were likely from the Christina Lake grow-op, says Canuel.

"This year, obviously we've had the issue with Allen Piche feeding dangerous wildlife. Although I can't confirm 100 per cent that those are bears that have originated from that property, there is some likelihood that some could be."

Busted with buckets of kibble

Allen Piche admitted to feeding dozens of docile black bears about $100 of dog food a day on his property in the southern Interior, and was charged with feeding dangerous wildlife in November 2010.

He was ordered to stop feeding the bears, but concerns remained that they would be unable to adapt to feeding themselves in the wild again and would have to eventually be shot after they came out of hibernation this spring. 

Piche says he hasn't noticed any of "his" bears missing, but says he can't be certain the black bears shot by conservation officials weren't ones fed on his property.

Earlier this year he 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.

Piche plead guilty in March and will be sentenced in December.

With files from the CBC's Bob Keating