Man who tamed grow-op bears calls reports 'fantasy'
Published Monday, September 6, 2010 2:47PM PDT
Allen Piche, who was accused of taming more than a dozen bears and using them to guard a marijuana grow operation, says the media reports about him are pure fiction.
The roughly 15 bears were discovered last month during a raid on a Christina Lake grow-op. Police suspected the animals were being used to guard the site, a charge that was circulated in the international media.
"It was like a total fantasy," Piche said. "‘He's got pot, he's got bears, they're guarding the plants.' That's what went out around the world."
"I had hate mail, hate mail, hate mail."
In a video released online last Monday, Piche claims he's been feeding the bears for a decade. He says he started by feeding a single old bear he sensed was looking to him for food, and the situation snowballed from there.
By the time RCMP arrived to raid the grow op, the bears were roaming around like friendly pets. One even lounged on a police car.
CTV News spoke to some of Piche's neighbours, who said they aren't fazed at all by the presence of the semi-tame bears – but conservation officials are.
After the raid, authorities considered destroying the bears in the interest of public safety. After what Piche describes as fierce negotiations, they agreed to let him continue feeding the animals until they go into hibernation.
He'll then be required to fence his property off to stop them from returning. If the bears behave, they will be left alone.
"We're going to monitor the neighbourhood and talk to people," Piche said. "We're going to see if any bears are causing trouble, and then they'll have to be destroyed."
Between potential violations of the Wildlife Act and the grow-op investigation, it's unclear what kind of trouble Piche is in. For now, he says he's focusing on helping the bears transition back into the wild.
As for media reports, Piche admits one of the strange details circulated about him is true: he has a pet raccoon, an orphan that he says likes to sleep on his bed.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Kent Molgat