It’s been called one of B.C.’s most bizarre drug cases in recent memory. A story with a cast of characters including an oddball hippy, a pot-bellied pig, an overly friendly raccoon and 24 black bears. Oh, and a thousand pot plants, apparently guarded by the bears.
The bust took place in August of 2010 near Christina Lake, and the story travelled to all parts of the world, including the United States, Denmark, England, India and Russia, where a news anchor lady could not stop laughing as she read the story. The New York Post declared, “Don’t Smokey near this bear.”
Allen Piche, aka the “oddball hippy,” has just released his book, The Beardude Story, which chronicles his side of this strange tale.
“Over the 12 years that I befriended these bears, it became obvious that they were nothing like what I’d been taught,” Piche said, who admittedly hand-fed as many as 20 bears at a time near his mountain home. “If they were dangerous wildlife, I would never have lived to tell this story.”
With a recounting of his educational history in eastern Canada, designed to show the evolution of a bear feeder, Piche begins the book touching upon many of the issues that concerned youth at the time.
“Many of us figured that we had better decide for ourselves what was right and wrong,” he said, “because the system tended to direct thought for ends other than truth. The idea being to perpetuate their own functions, and to control individuals in the service of these functions.”
He moved west where, in 1999, Piche fed his first bear.
The book tells tales of interspecies friendships—“friendships that defy the current beliefs about black bears and raise important issues about current bear management practices,” Piche said.
The book walks readers through the police bust and his subsequent efforts to keep kibble on the grass for his bear friends until they went off to den for the winter. He also gives a brief survey of his research on black bears, leading to a comprehensive rebuttal of the Ministry of the Environment’s Impact Statement.
When asked if the bears were really taught to guard a marijuana crop, Piche smiled and said, “I couldn’t even train the bears to stay off the car, much less make them understand the concept of guarding private property. And the raccoon immediately tried to distance himself from me when the police arrived for the bust by sucking up to them─unfortunately for him, not everybody thinks that a raccoon climbing up your pant-leg is a positive experience.”
The Beardude Story is available for $20 at the Pedaller’s Place and Pharmasave in Grand Forks, Lisa’s Lakeside Bistro at Christina Lake, and online at Amazon.ca.