COMMENTARY: Bears in Mammoth


My fellow Mammoth Citizens,
I relocated to Mammoth Lakes some 4 years ago to escape the SOCAL urban chaos that only seems to worsen every time Im forced to return to that land of freeways, bumper to bumper traffic, noise, pollution, chain stores/strip malls and that hectic grind that always reminds one of never quite having enough time in any given day to accomplish such vital tasks that will supposedly make us much happier, wealthier, more successful, more attractive, more know the rest.

(Photo of bear cubs later destroyed with their mother.)

Why should I add my 2 cents worth to the on-going back and forth regarding our local bear population when there are so many other more pressing issues we should be concerned about? Perhaps I was inspired by Benett Kesslers quote from Ghandi this morning on the radio which I will paraphrase a society can in fact be fairly judged on how well it treats it animals.

Shortly after I relocated, Mammoth suffered an incident where a small, young bear doing nothing that could in any way be interpreted as aggressive, was killed by a bow hunter near one of our local lakes. In front of horrified tourists and visiting families with screaming children this person, bent on getting his prize, would not desist in his deadly efforts until the small animal was dutifully slaughtered. At that time, at least, there were charges brought and some modicum of justice sought for the wrongful and wasteful death of the innocent creature.

I contacted the Town Council following this incident and offered to contribute some seed money toward the implementation of a signage program (both educational as well as legal) such that any future visitor would be well-informed as to the prohibitions and possible consequences of harming or killing wildlife within our towns jurisdictional limits. I was told, at the time, that such a program was not needed. My offer still stands.

Since that sad incident much turbulent water with regard to bears has passed beneath the Mammoth Creek bridge. With the rehiring of Steve Searles as Wildlife Specialist the Town has at least acknowledged that the management of bears within its jurisdiction is of importance and is in fact more then likely also its responsibility. This process took over 2+ years to be finally resolved although some problems still persist. Much credit goes to Councilman John Eastman and his persistent insistence that our Town Government step up to its obligations. For this I applaud him.

Now apparently new jurisdictional road blocks and complications appear to have emerged between the Town(Municipal), Forest Service (National) and Dept. of Fish and Game (State) in implementing a sensible Comprehensive Bear Management and Control Program in the greater Mammoth Lakes Basin which is in fact all of our own backyard.

I would like to encourage all of these authorities to find some common ground quickly so that more of our local bear population does not become the subject of random, unnecessary predatory violence or have to be trapped and destroyed as a nuisance. Please tell your local representatives what you think about this ongoing issue and write to the appropriate State and National Department officials expressing your concerns about our problem and your hope that there can be swift and effective solutions found and a program implemented.

Mammoth rightfully tries to preserve as well as prides itself on its beautiful scenery and the many opportunities for recreation and tourism within the surrounding lands that are in fact WILD BY NATURE not the least of which can be the exhilarating observation of bears living along our streams, lakes and in our nearby forests. Lest we all forget, bears (when they are not sleeping) are always looking for food. Its their job.

So lets all try to be better, more conscientious neighbors and caring stewards of these and all of our wild creatures, inform our many visitors as how to best observe, react to and respect these beautiful animals and we here who are lucky enough to live in Mammoth Lakes shall ALL be better served for these efforts while always keeping those prophetic words of Ghandi in mind.

Thanks Benett!
(Submitted by Steve Horman of Mammoth Lakes)

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