Mammoth’s Bear Whisperer resigns because of contract disagreement // Mono County Weekly

The Town of Mammoth Lakes reduced staff because of a $3.9 million projected budget deficit in the general fund primarily due to COVID-19. 

He may be known as the “Bear Whisperer,” but Steve Searles doesn’t like the nickname. He says he’s a “bear yeller.” But now he’s unemployed because of COVID budget cuts and a contract disagreement.

The moniker was given to him by “some Hollywood guy” when they filmed a television show about him years ago, but he manages all wildlife.

“Deer, bob cat, coyote, raccoon—nobody gives a shit about the coyotes, but I work with all the animals,” he said, “Raccoons, birds of prey, snakes, bats in houses—I’m happy to respond. I’ll go on calls to help a blue jay.”

Even if he loves wildlife and his job, Searles, the longtime wildlife management consultant for the Town of Mammoth Lakes, resigned last week because of a contract dispute.

“It was a hard decision to make,” he said. “I don’t do it for the money. I work for the people. I work for the animals.”

Still, he resigned because of what he considers a 50 percent pay cut.

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