New Bear Awareness Tactics for a Drought Year

Steve Searles introduces the “Don’t Feed Our Bears” video series 

Mammoth Lakes Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles, better known as The Bear Whisperer, isn’t afraid to make a fool of himself in the name of coexistence with bears, especially this year when a winter drought will make food sources for bears, scarce.

Join the technology-challenged Searles as he navigates his new smartphone and social media of the 21st century. On March 1, Searles launched the “Don’t Feed Our Bears” video series — a daily, 30-60 second raw video of a local bear or bears taken by him in the field, and then posted to his social media channels with the sole purpose of coexistence education. The footage is grassroots, innovative and often comical. It’s not a glossy-finished Hollywood product but a real view of wildlife in Mammoth Lakes that may include bloopers, drama and a warm-fuzzy feeling.

“This year more than ever we need to keep the bears in the limelight,” Searles said. “I am making and posting these videos with the hope that they will be viewed and SHARED across the web to lead by example and show the world that it is possible to co-exist with bears and other wildlife.”

That’s right, just watch the video and then hit share to help keep bears and other wildlife on people’s minds everywhere.

Now more than the ever, please remember to keep garbage contained. Let’s keep our wildlife healthy this year. Don’t Feed Our Bears.


Check out and SHARE the videos at
 youtube.com/BearWhispererSearles or 





Don't feed the bears ... no matter how cute they are

little bear in trouble

This cute, cuddly 19-month old bear cub is on the same track as the well-known Blondie who was ultimately killed in 2010. The pictured cub lost its mother last year and has been breaking into people’s homes in Old Mammoth this summer, eating food. Due to its non-threatening appearance and demeanor, homeowners are snapping photos rather than shooing it away, forgetting that while small now, this male cub will eventually weigh in around 450 pounds. As Bear Whisperer and Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles put it, “This bear is destined for a bullet if we don’t stop feeding it.” So if you see it at your home, remember that feeding it will do more harm than good. Keep food and trash locked up and don’t feed the bears!

(Photo: Robert George)



A fed bear is a dead bear


Summer is here so it's time for a bear awareness refresher!

Don't encourage bears to take the easy way out and eat human food. If a bear finds easily obtainable food and/or food trash, the animal will continue to return until the food source is gone. A bear may check back for several days in a row (sometimes up to a week), and if the food is absent, the bear will move on.

These are common mistakes made by humans living in or visiting a forest/urban interface area such as Mammoth Lakes:

 Household garbage't disposed of properly. Take trash straight to the provided trash receptacles where you live or are staying. Follow all property management trash rules posted for that location or written in a lease. Homeowners in Mammoth who are responsible for disposing of their own trash need to make regular trips to the transfer station, or store trash properly for pickup. The containers should be tightly sealed and kept inside. Regularly spraying ammonia based household cleaners inside cans or bins are also a proven deterrent to bears as well as raccoons and coyotes.

 Food is not properly secured at campsites. State and local laws require that the bear boxes in each site be properly used. Ice chests cannot be left out in the open when unattended. In the backcountry, canisters are required.

 Food or empty wrappers/containers are left in vehicles. Bears will open car doors or tear through soft tops to get to what smells like food. Considerable damage is often done to cars in the process.

 Pet food is left out on porches or decks. Clean up after your dog or cat eats, or better yet, feed your animals inside. Store extra food in airtight containers. If food is kept in a garage or other outside storage area, make sure the container is sealed and the storage area/garage door is closed.

 Bird feeders are not properly hung or cleaned up around. Seed, fruit and suet are all natural bear foods. It sends the bears a mixed message to put out things they are supposed to eat and then punishing them for trying to do so. Avian biologists suggest providing only fresh water in the summer months when bears are active. A birdbath will attract just as many birds as feeders. Save the feeding for the snowy months when the birds really need help and the bears are denned up. If you insist on feeding, hang the feeders out on wires so they are away from trees, posts, the house, or anything a bear can climb on to get to them. Feed only seed and clean up the spills daily. Many people have success with attaching a trash can lid, tray, or other similar object to the bottom of the feeder to keep the spills from hitting the ground.

Call Steve Searles at 760.937.BEAR for bear questions or problems.



Rasta's cub meets unfortunate accident

cub2Some sad news on the bear front. A few weeks ago, Rasta bear and her two cubs (one black, one brown) came down from the Lakes Basin in search of food. During their escapade, a car hit the 8-month-old, black, female cub and Steve was forced to put her down. The family was popular in the Lakes Basin this summer and kept out of trouble. With that in mind, let’s focus on what a great example of coexistence the little bear was during her time here.

Farewell to an old friend

golfbearThe large, cinnamon-colored bear that many locals and visitors have golfed with at Sierra Star in Mammoth Lakes over the years was found dead on Sept. 21 near a home on Rusty Lane. Local Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles stated that the cause of death is unknown at this time, but he was able to rule out a traffic collision. 

The male bear, weighing at least 500 pounds according to Searles was the largest bear in Mammoth (he head was 15” from ear to ear), and quite possibly the most mellow. Searles is unsure of his exact age because he only knew the gentle giant as an adult. “He was the greatest example of how well bears can co-exist with people,” Searles said. “The only call I ever received on this bear was from some golfers who were simply intimidated by his size.” 

The bear, which Searles never officially named because he stayed out of trouble, was commonly seen on holes 6 and 8 at Sierra Star. 

“He was a magnificent bear with zero attitude,” Searles said.

If you know anything about the death of this bear please call Searles at 760.937.2327. Anonymous calls accepted.

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Don't Feed Our Bears

Co-existence with bears comes with responsibility. Do not approach animals in the wild, respect their habitat and above all, never feed wildlife.

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