It may not look like much, but this new sign on the inbound Hwy 203 just south of the Visitor’s Center required a 31-page permit to install. Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles calls that alone a “huge accomplishment. It’s a big deal getting anything out of Caltrans.” Six additional signs reading “Speeding Kills Wildlife” should start going up in areas with frequent bear and deer crossings on Monday.
In addition to signage discussions, Chief Dan Watson presented an update on bear country literature at Tuesday afternoon’s Wildlife Committee meeting. The new bear country page corrects errors found in the old page, particularly in regard to what to do when encountering a bear.
Mammoth Lakes Wildlife Specialist Steve Searles, who had input on the new literature, said the old literature had “silly stuff like ‘don’t stare into their eyes.’ These aren’t gang members, they’re magnificent animals.” The old literature also warned never to run from bears, which Searles said was “misinformed” advice, given that “black bears don’t pursue any animal by chase.” Run from a black bear, and it will probably run away from you.
Mayor Skip Harvey brought to the committee’s attention an incident in NY state where a bear went after a baby in a stroller because of the food the mother had stored there. “Maybe we can add a warning about that kind of thing,” he said. Searles joked dryly, “Yeah, ‘don’t feed your baby to a black bear.’”
All joking aside, Searles had a positive report to offer on bear activity thus far in and around town. “The bears are doing great,” he said. “There have been no citings, no issues, and trash management is doing great.”
The new bear country literature will be printed and distributed around town next week.