A Vancouver Island man is under investigation after allegedly bludgeoning a mother raccoon and her baby to death with a hockey stick.

A witness told animal protection officers in Esquimalt, B.C., he saw his neighbour strike the animals at least 10 times Sunday night and then throw them into a bush.

"I heard someone taking a stick and thumping it against the cement. I looked outside and I saw him hitting the mother with the hockey stick," said James Adam, who lives in an apartment across the street and declined to give his full name.

Adam yelled down and told the man to stop while he called police, but he said the man didn't stop.

"He looked right at me and turned around and started whacking it again," he said. "I seen him dig the baby out of the garbage. I believe it was still alive and I watched him hit him with a hockey stick."

James said he went outside after the incident to help but both animals were already dead.

In Pictures: Raccoons killed

Animal protection officers with the Victoria branch of the B.C. SPCA responded to the home a day later. The dead animals were put into black garbage bags and removed by officers.

Under B.C. law, raccoons are considered alien species or pests and residents are allowed to kill one humanely if it is damaging property.

"I don't believe bludgeoning falls under the category of too humane legal standards. So that's what we're investigating here," said SPCA Animal Protection Officer Erika Paul.

Officials will now conduct a post-mortem on the animals to reveal their exact cause of death.

"Certainly by the information the witness has given us we will be following up to determine if an offence has been committed," said Paul.

Area residents say the female raccoon had lived in the area for several years and didn't bother anyone.

"I can hardly talk about it. They were our pets," one woman said, adding that the mom and its young babies had taken to living under her deck.

She said the animals never caused any trouble but area residents always kept their garbage containers locked to ensure they didn't get into mischief.

James said he believed the animals were killed because they were getting into the man's trash.

"He was just mad because they were getting it into the garbage but it's not raccoon proof -- so it's not their fault," he said.

"The way I seen him hitting the animals I couldn't believe that anyone could actually do that. I know I could never do that."

Paul said the accused could be charged under the Criminal Code if found guilty under the investigation.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act does not apply to wild animals that are not in captivity.