We live in reactionary times. The world’s gone mad. Bears are a cure, not one of the problems….The prevalence of bears isn’t something that’s gone wrong. they represent something that has gone right. With the steady drumbeat of bad news about the climate, we see this indicator species thriving.
We should celebrate that. Seeing a bear is like seeing a rainbow or a shooting star. People ask me all the time what they should do when they come across a bear. I say, take a breath, hug your kid, whisper in their ear: “Aren’t we lucky? We get to see a bear.”
–Steve Searles in Psychology Today
WHAT THE BEARS KNOW (Pegasus Books; October 3rd 2023) follows the incredible story of how one man went from a hired hunter to becoming one of America’s top champions for this iconic animal. In this wondrous and eye-opening exploration, Steve Searles, the renowned and respected “Bear Whisperer” of Mammoth Lakes and Chris Erskine, Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times columnist, takes the reader on a journey into the lives of these remarkable creatures and the world we share.
“This book is far more than a California story. As bears sometimes cut a path lager than they appear, so are the implications in this simple yet important narrative.” —Anthony Portantino, California state senator
“The unlikely and inspiring life of Steve Searles is well-told in the masterful hands of Chris Erskine, Los Angeles’ version of Mark Twain. Searles shows us what is possible when humans and very large and misunderstood animals live close together in an ever-changing world.”
—Russ Stanton, former Editor-in-Chief, Los Angeles Times
In the late 1990s, the town of Mammoth Lakes, California hired Steve Searles as a hunter to cull half its troublesome bear population. But as he began to prepare for the grim task, the bears soon won him over, and Searles realized there had to be a better way. He soon developed non-lethal tactics to control their behavior and overpopulation which heralded a landmark moment in the care and handling of the American black bear.
But change was not without its challenges. To some, his success was dismissed due to his lack of formal academic training. Yet Searles never wavered in his commitment and eventually became not just local folk hero but a nationally recognized expert. This high school dropout saved not just the bears, but, in many ways, his community.
In a tradition that runs from John Muir to Bear Grylls, Searles finds a fellowship with nature and a deeper meaning in the world of bears. Do bears understand things we don’t? Are they dialed into some greater natural force?
Unlike us, bears waste little time on unreasonable fears. Bears are fully in the moment. They have an inner peace that seems to offset their power and strength. That may explain why no other animal on the planet is as revered as the bear.
As Searles shares his remarkable knowledge and we become immersed in the ursine world, you’ll never look at bears or nature the same way again. Warm and poignant, and perfect for anyone who has been fascinated by the natural world, What the Bears Know shows that wisdom and fulfillment can come from unexpected places.