People in Mammoth still cant figure out why the Town has failed to hire former wildlife officer Steve Searles to do the job that he has successfully done for years. Town officials blame Searles for turning down employment contract offers, but the former Bear Man points to unbearable human relations with the Police Chief and finally the Town, as the roadblocks to a workable bear program.
Searles explained that at the exact same time he was in job negotiations with the Town, they were also conducting a confidential investigation into why Police Chief Randy Scheinle fired the former wildlife officer in the first place. This messy situation left Searles seriously wary of signing on the dotted line.
With the bears in hibernation over the winter, Searles says that he decided to wait until the investigation wrapped up before he signed anything.
“The investigation took months, but to say that I turned down contracts and certain deals…that’s just not what happened,” he says. Searles explained that the negotiations were going well.
What did happen is that the results of the secret investigation never went public. Due to employment law, not even the town council knows the results of the investigation, though it was publicly stated by Mayor Skip Harvey that no laws were broken. For Searles, this meant that his basic questions were swept permanently under the rug.
“They had a paid for an investigation. Its just that none of us can read it, he says. “Very basic questions and concerns that I had about my employment at the Police Department and how I felt I was being treated, to this day have gone unanswered,” Searles explained.
When Searles was fired over a year ago, a number of reasons were given including that the bear program was so successful that Searles was no longer needed, and that he never filled out any time cards with the Police Department. These contradictory reasons, along with the missing personnel file containing a record of the years spent working for the Police, remain unanswered despite the money spent on an investigator.