The bear in Mammoth Lakes, described as a public safety issue by the Department of Fish and Game, died this morning when DFG wardens tranquilized him and shot him. Residents and Mammoth’s bear expert, Steve Searles are not happy.
Searles called the destruction of the bear “an enormous setback.” Searles said he has received many calls for locals, none of whom are happy about the way the bear was handled. Searles said he sees more bear killings ahead.
Searles, who developed a bear management program for the Town of Mammoth – a program that went nationwide – said that the more you shoot bears, the more there will be. Searles said he has found the more you train bears and let them know where they’re allowed to be, they hold that habitat.
Searles said he believes if he had been doing his education and patrols in the Lakes Basin as he used to do for the Town, the bear problems wouldn’t have happened. The track record over the last 10 years show a major reduction in bear problems. Searles, who had worked for the Town as a volunteer was fired by the Police Chief in past months over the issue of Searles concerns over community methamphetamine use.
Searles suggested that community members contact the Town if they are concerned about bear management. DFG spokesman Steve Martarano said he doesn’t believe Searles program of management works. Searles called that comment the DFG “party line.” He’s in Sacramento, said Searles, and he doesn’t know what works here.
DFG officials have consistently resisted Searles methods in favor of trapping and shooting animals. “In the next 60 days,” said Searles, “we’ll see more animal and people encounters because of the drought.”
Mammoth Mayor Skip Harvey had said last week that he did not want Mammoth Police involved in shooting bears, but it appears DFG will be.