They’ve consulted with other agencies, a national park and the Tahoe Bear League. Everywhere Mammoth Town officials search, they find Steve Searles has already been there to instruct others on bear management. For some reason, the Town still hasn’t gotten it together with Searles in Mammoth Lakes.
Bears have started to wake up from their hibernation and Mammoth still has question marks where bear management belongs. Mayor Skip Harvey said that “Steve Searles is a huge asset. If we can use his skills, we will be miles ahead.” Until that happens, the Town Bear Subcommittee will form yet another new committee actually two. One interagency committee to talk about bears and another citizen committee
to “oversee issues” and come up with a plan.
Mayor Harvey said Searles would be welcome in this scenario, but Searles is viewed as an entrepreneur, eccentric genius who created his own unique program and carries it out, virtually single-handedly. He does need to work with police. After earlier reports of animosity between Police Chief Randy Schienle and Searles, Mayor Harvey said he gets the feeling Chief Schienle and Sergeant Karen Smart can work
with Searles. Until that happens, police will respond to bear calls.
TV networks, newspapers and production companies have all sought out Searles to tell the story of an unusual man who can communicate with bears and convince them to get out of peoples’ way.
The Mayor admitted that “Steve Searles is highly respected wherever we go. We do have the incentive to find a way to use Searles. The general feeling is we can make this work.” The Maverick bear man is clearly not perceived as a bureaucrat. Searles has stated he does his work because he loves it.
The Mayor said reality has grown more harsh. “We all realize his expertise and want to use it, but we don’t live in a handshake world anymore,” he said. “Government is a business with risks, liabilities and responsibilities.” Harvey said the Town needs to “clearly define everything.”
Bear management will turn up on a Town Council agenda at the second meeting in March