Bear activity on rise in Mammoth Lakes

– Press release from the Mammoth Lakes Police Department:

The black bears in the Mammoth Lakes area have become very active over the past few weeks and the drought conditions mean that there will be high activity for the next three months.


Recent sightings have been observed throughout Town, and second year cub has been very active in the Old Mammoth Area.

Unfortunately, some residents have been encouraging bad bear behavior such as not properly securing their vehicles or residences. Some have also been reluctant to report problems with the bears to the Police Department or its Wildlife Specialist, Steve Searles.

Mammoth Lakes has a very successful bear management program that includes public education and aversive conditioning for bears. It’s especially important for young bears, such as the one causing havoc in Old Mammoth, to be “taught” that certain behavior, such as entering cars or buildings for food, is unacceptable. The Wildlife Specialist

spends many hours during the day providing public education and interacting with the bears, but he and the officers of the MLPD need to be informed when a bear is misbehaving.

Another big problem is created by unsecured dumpsters. It is vitally important for businesses, residents, and visitors to always properly secure dumpsters. All food, ice chests, and sweet smelling products like shampoo should never be left outdoors or in a car overnight. Bears are highly intelligent animals and when they see an ice chest they know it may contain food. So if a bear sees an ice chest in the back of a car or truck, they will figure out a way to get into the ice chest, and it’s usually an expensive repair.

The best way of preventing bears from becoming dependent on humans for food is to follow these common sense rules:

• Never leave food out for bears or other wild animals

• Securely store food and fragrant items such as shampoo and deodorant in an airtight container. When camping, use a bear-proof box

• Don’t leave food, even in a cooler, in a car, tent, or other unsecure location

• Don’t leave pet food outdoors or use a bird feeder. Bears love bird seed!

• Put away picnic leftovers and keep barbecue grills clean

• Always deposit trash in a bear proof trash can or dumpster

• Keep your car locked and your garage door closed and locked

• Never leave food on or near a window sill or on a counter near an open window

• Close and lock ground floor windows when no one is home and at night

Bears that have been conditioned to rely on humans for food become unmanageable and unfortunately, sometimes have to be destroyed. Please help to keep our bears healthy. Enjoy their presence, but do not encourage behavior that is harmful to them. DON’T FEED OUR BEARS!

For more information on co-existing with wildlife or to report a bear problem, contact the Town’s Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles at (760) 937-BEAR.


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