Stickers that read “Dont Feed Our Bears” are displayed proudly on bumpers all over the Eastern Sierra and beyond. The stickers are a mark of local pride, and they also are part of a very successful public awareness program that has reduced problems between people and bears in Mammoth Lakes.
The tireless efforts of Mammoth Police Wildlife Officer Steve Searles
were integral to the success of the wildlife program in Mammoth.
Searles now has a new public awareness program to eliminate the use of
methamphetamine in Mammoth, which has not been so well received. In
fact, Mammoth Police Chief Randy Schienle terminated Searles employment
late last week for unstated reasons.
The stickers that prompted some Town officials to distance themselves
from the effort read “Mammoth Locals Against Crime” and “Mammoth not
Mammeth”. While no one even blinked an eye with the “Dont Feed Our
Bears” stickers, the topic of crime and methamphetamine use may be too
hot to touch. The Town and Police Department issued a press release
stating that the Town did not authorize or endorse the production of
Mammoth Mountain officials have also been wary of the stickers and have
asked Searles to cut the name Mammoth, which they say is similar to an
old Ski Area logo, off the stickers.
Searles kicked off this grassroots campaign because he is tired of what
he sees as too much crime and violent crime that in his neighborhood
which include a recent attempted rape, stabbings, methamphetamine
dealing and use.
Steve Searles says that in the thirty years that he has lived in
Mammoth he only started locking his door in the last few years. The
rise in crime and violent crime is tied to the methamphetamine problem,
he explained. Mammoth is a small town with only one way in or out. “Why
can’t we be meth free?” he asks.
Mammoth is a small town that thrives on public involvement. Searles
says that the Mammoth Police are among the finest in the world, but
that “the crime problem can and needs to be solved by all of us.”
The public awareness program worked for the bears. Steve Searles now
wants to try the same tactics to help people. “While people rallied to
help the bears, no one holds a bake sale to help the victim of a rape
or other crime,” he says. With everybody’s help, Searles wants to do
what no other town in the United States has been able to do, eliminate
The Town is trying to distance themselves from this effort without
coming out against the sticker campaign. Police Chief Randy Schienle
says that they issued the press release to clarify that they didnt
authorize or endorse the stickers.
For his part Chief Schienle says that he is not sure Searles will be
successful though he also said he wasnt sure that what the Police do
to fight drugs will work either. Chief Schienle says he wishes Steve
But, in days after that statement, the Chief asked Searles to turn in
his wildlife badge and call it quits. We have calls into officials for
more information on this turn of events.
Because of the objections to using a Mammoth Mountain Ski Area logo on
the stickers, Searles now has cut the tops off the stickers to read
locals against crime and simply not Mammeth.