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A wild ride for wildlife this summer in Mammoth Lakes

Bears in Mammoth Lakes
Bears in Mammoth Lakes
Lara Kirkner

We’re headed into uncharted territory as we dip deeper into summer 2014 here is Mammoth Lakes. Now in our third year of drought, the effects will likely be seen across all wildlife, but as the large, indicator species, the local bears will stand out the most.

Mother Nature is throwing us a curveball and we’re currently seven weeks ahead of schedule when it comes to the bears. This means that food sources are already low and it’s unclear what shape the bears will be in as the season progresses.

According to local Mammoth Lakes Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles, "Now is the time to start remembering and practicing good habits. Mammoth Lakes is already the leader in the world for co-habitation with wildlife, but this year we’re going to have to step up our game even further. We have to be prepared because it will be challenging."

There are currently 26 bears in our local 26 square miles, which is normal and at the State of California’s average of one bear per square mile. As the summer continues, however, we may see some bears run out of town. The big boys have been arriving in town recently as food sources at higher elevations dwindle. You can bet that if there is not enough food locally to support all 26 bears, the smaller bears will be run out by the larger ones.

So the bears won’t starve, they will just be run out, which is why, even though they will be looking for food in our dumpsters, we can’t give in. Now more than ever, Don’t Feed Our Bears just let nature take its course.

If you see a bear, don’t be frightened especially if the bear is doing something natural such as munching on flowers or sleeping in a tree. Simply hug your wife, pay your taxes and relish in the knowing you are witnessing something truly beautiful.

Bear Tips
Don’t let your dumpsters and trash cans overflow or get too full. The bears will get into them one way or another.

Cubs may be cute, but they will grow up to be big bears. Don’t try to baby them or let them get away with mischievous behavior. Don’t teach them bad habits by feeding them. They must learn to fend for themselves.

Drive slowly! Bears and other wildlife cross the local roads all the time. Be cautious when driving through town.

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

Don’t leave food in your car! This is another form of feeding the bears. If you choose to leave food in your car you might as well call your insurance company ahead of time and tell them to charge you your deductible. Your car will get thrashed.

Learn more about Steve Searles and see his grassroots bear video footage at

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