The fledgling wildlife management group, Bear with Us, may be on the right track despite what had appeared to be crippling regulations. On Wednesday, the same town council that decided to hand the wildlife management program over to whoever would take it, stepped up to the plate and committed money to help the group get off the ground.
The new group, headed up by Joe Parrino and Marianne OConnor received a bigger boost when former Mammoth Police Wildlife Officer Steve Searles said that he would support Bear With Us.
As recent as last week, Bear with Us volunteers were told by town officials that when the Police respond to bear calls, the volunteers could only observe. Without the ability to use any of the non-lethal deterrence methods pioneered by Searles, the utility of the volunteers was in doubt.
Now that has changed. When we spoke to Searles on Thursday, he explained that the town had agreed to allow him to use firearms and flash bang devices like he had been allowed to do when he worked for the Police. He will also have the authority to cross private property to trail wildlife on calls.
While Searles is ready to move on and get back to work, he remains unhappy with how Town Officials handled his being fired in the first place. He says that he still hasnt received his last paycheck. The other issue that bugs him after a year and a half of fighting with the town, is that he cant get his old badge back even as a keepsake.
None of this is yet set in stone, but Wednesday night the Mammoth Town Council committed money to Bear With Us to get started on the program. The council had been talking about $10,000 before council member John Eastman upped the number to $15,000.
There are still more bugs to work out, but it appears that Mammoth officials have now supplied a healthy portion of the money and legal framework to bring the wildlife program back to life.