Police said Wednesday they were astonished to find at least 14 wild black bears guarding an illegal marijuana growing operation after a recent raid on the property in westernmost Canada.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Fred Mansveld said police believe two growers arrested in the raid had used dog food to lure the animals onto the remote property in southeastern British Columbia, to deter marijuana thieves.
Police commonly find dogs, human guards or booby-traps on Canadian marijuana growing operations or "grow-ops." In comparison, these bears did a very poor job as guard animals when five policemen arrived.
"They were tame, they just sat around watching... at one point one of the bears climbed onto the hood of a police car, sat there for a bit and then jumped off," said Mansveld.
He said the officers involved in the July 30 raid were all familiar with wild animals, and while wary, were not afraid of the bears once they realized the animals were not aggressive.
Black bears are common throughout Canada, and except in the cases of mothers with cubs, usually live solitary lives in the wilderness. It is against provincial law to feed them.
By feeding them, said Dave Webster, a conservation officer with the provincial government who launched an investigation of the case on Wednesday, the marijuana growers delivered "a death sentence for the wild animals."
Webster told AFP "tame" bears are dangerous, because once they?re fed they commonly seek out other people, frequently destroy property, and in very rare cases attack or even kill people.
"If a bear is deemed to be a safety risk and is habituated to human food and not able to feed itself in the wild, it will be destroyed," he explained.
Police, citizens or conservation officers kill untold hundreds of so-called "nuisance" bears annually throughout Canada.
"It's killing animals by kindness," said Mansveld. "It?s terrible, a real shame."
Mansfield said when police entered the house on the property, "we also found a pot belly pig and a little raccoon sleeping on the bed... it was friendly, it tried to climb one officer?s leg."