While Town of Mammoth officials wrangle month after month over a deal with Steve Searles for bear management, the Los Angeles Times has published a lengthy story on Searles, his talent with animals and his iconic popularity in his community.
The article, published in the widely read Column One space on Page one, describes the “Baddest Bear in Town.” That’s Searles. The writer chronicles Searles unique style, personality and uncanny ability to handle wild animals.
The story also reveals the wide acceptance and appreciation for Searles’ bear management program. The story retells many of the bear tales locally known – like Fish and Game’s almost obsessive aversion to Searles’ abilities.
The story quotes Al Zamudio of Crowley, former DFG employee, who said his bosses encourage him to spy on Searles and try to catch him doing anything illegal. DFG’s public information man did not deny Zamudio’s story.
The story touches on Searles’ relationship with town government and the police department and the enthusiastic political support shown to Searles at a Mammoth Town Council meeting, where citizens clamored to rehire Searles.
Mammoth Town Manager Rob Clark said the Town is still negotiating with Searles over a contract to work for the town. Meanwhile, Searles has been taking bear problem calls for the Town.
What about reports that trouble still brews between Police Chief Randy Schienle and Searles? Manager Clark said that “relationships need to be mended from last winter. We all value the service Steve has given and we’re trying to find answers.” The manager said the Town wants to make sure Searles is “treated right.” Police Chief Schienle had fired Searles from his volunteer wildlife specialist job.
Clark called Searles’ work “broadly accepted.” With coverage in the LA Times to die for, few would disagree.