What the bears know How I found truth and magic in America's most misunderstood creatures

Steve Searles, 1959-

Book - 2023

"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 that 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 in to some greater natural force? 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."--

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor New Shelf 599.78/Searles (NEW SHELF) Due May 11, 2024
New York : Pegasus Books 2023.
Main Author
Steve Searles, 1959- (author)
Other Authors
Chris Erskine (author)
First Pegasus Books cloth edition
Physical Description
xiii, 252 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations ; 24 cm
  • Introduction
  • 1. Bears, Bears Everywhere
  • 2. A Gopher in My Glove
  • 3. Finding My Magic Mountain
  • 4. The Things I Don't Know
  • 5. This Moment Changes Everything
  • 6. My Dear Debs
  • 7. A Bear Named Hemorrhoid
  • 8. Why Bears Sleep Upside Down
  • 9. I Hate Fear
  • 10. Big Runs for His Life
  • 11. Wilderness Jesus
  • 12. Spreading the Word
  • 13. New Jersey Needs Help
  • 14. The Super Bowl of Bears
  • 15. Don't Feed Our Bears
  • 16. Locals vs. Tourists
  • 17. This Bear Changes Everything
  • 18. Dances with Bears
  • 19. No Quick Fixes
  • 20. A Wobbly Little Cub
  • 21. Pizza and the Baby
  • 22. "Good Thoughts Are Tiny Prayers"
  • 23. Searles, You're Fired!
  • 24. Reality TV and Me
  • 25. More Media Magic
  • 26. Blondie's Luckless Life
  • 27. All in a Day's Work
  • 28. Literally up a Tree
  • 29. Another Bloody Bumper
  • 30. So Long, Debs
  • 31. "I Don't Do That Anymore"
  • 32. The Creek Fire Closes In
  • Epilogue
  • Black Bear Tip Sheet
  • Acknowledgments
Review by Booklist Review

In the 1990s, the colorful Searles was hired to deal with the black bear problem at Mammoth Lakes, California. He worked to find nonlethal, often unconventional solutions for dealing with the bears who raided the town's garbage cans, cars, and homes for food to bulk up as they prepared for hibernation. In lively prose, Searles, also known as the Bear Whisperer, shares about being a "media hustler" and filming with various crews; once, he trained bears to stay away from garbage bins by plowing his vehicle (with a news crew along for the ride) into the side of a dumpster. Not only was he training the bears, trying to figure out their relationships, emotions, and triggers, but he was also working with the town's inhabitants to not tempt the bears and facing challenges from those who questioned his methods. Along the way, many myths about bears are addressed and corrected. Periodically, coauthor Erksine, through italicized segments, offers his insights on the events and on Searles, along with insight into their writing process. Searles and the bears are captivating subjects in this funny and moving work.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.