The ongoing mess with the bear management program continued at the Mammoth Town Council meeting Wednesday night. In the context of the reported rift between Mammoth Police Chief Randy Scheinle and former Wildlife Officer Steve Searles, Mayor Skip Harvey read aloud a letter that appeared to have been crafted by the legal department.
The letter stated that the Town hired an investigator to look into wildlife management issues, and that the report is now completed. Harvey read that no laws or procedures were violated and that the Town was proud of the progress made on bear management in past years. The letter stated that the Town was especially appreciative of the volunteer and paid work of bear man Steve Searles. The letter acknowledged that Searles has spent personal finances over the years on the bear management program as well.
As for what is in that investigators report, nothing was said. The letter stated that the investigators report was given to the Town Manager and the Town Attorney. Since the report deals with confidential employee matters, Town Attorney Peter Tracy confirmed that the Council is not allowed to read the report.
A staff report on the bear management group’s trip to Yosemite turned messy as well. The staff report states that the town is forming an interagency bear management committee under the Mammoth Police. Mayor Harvey, who is a member of the bear management group said he didnt recall the bear group had the authority to create the interagency committee. “Were getting ahead of ourselves,” he said. No one said anything about hands on work needed when the bears wake up from hibernation.
One person not on the proposed committee to figure out how to manage the bears in Mammoth, is former wildlife officer Steve Searles. When we spoke to Searles Friday, he said that he still believes he is the best person for the job.
The investigators report may never see the light of day, but with this latest round of bear trouble at the council and six weeks until the bears wake up, this issue if far from resolved.