Mammothâ€™s bears are out and about again, but that doesnâ€™t mean they are going to go after the pizza crust in your car.
No. This time of year, Mammothâ€™s bears are going green.
As in veggie green, says Steve Searles, Mammothâ€™s own bear whisperer.
â€śThe [bears] have been holed up all winter, and itâ€™s been a long winter. Right now, thereâ€™s little available natural food out. But they need something to purge everything out. So, they arenâ€™t that interested in your pizza, your burgers,â€ť Searles said.
â€śTheir biosystems are driven by the need for greens. They are looking for natural foods like grasses and plants. They are more apt to go after the half rotten cabbage left out than they are the pizza.â€ť
That means Mammothâ€™s bears are most likely now going to be hanging out near what Searles calls the â€śgreen lineâ€ť where the snow is retreating and leaving behind green growing things.
More alarmingly, they are also attracted to the sides of roads.
â€śRoads have a convex shape that drains moisture to the side of the road,â€ť Searles said.
â€śThey also attract heat (due to black asphalt and being open to sunlight), so the first green plants of the year often come up on roadsides,â€ť he said. And the occasional â€śhotdog end thrown out the windowâ€ť doesnâ€™t help either, he said.
Roads mean cars. Bears and cars donâ€™t mix. The connection is clear.
â€śWatch out,â€ť Searles said. â€śSlow down.â€ť
Searles observed that as wonderful as the fascination with bears is, right now, deer are animals to be hyper-aware of.
â€śThe big winter is making our highways a bottleneck,â€ť he said. Due to snow still on the ground in so many of the deerâ€™s normal spring grazing areas, the new growth on the highway and gravel road edges is very attractive to deer.
â€śDeer and vehicle collisions caused over $100,000 of damage last year and put some people into the critical care unit. They even caused a fatality (local climber John Fischer died last year near Conway Summit when a deer collided with his motorcycle),â€ť he said.
â€śAnd thatâ€™s not all. If you hit a deer on the road, other animals are attracted to it, coyotes, birds of prey, raccoons, you name it,â€ť he said.
The fact that so many other animals could unwittingly be dragged into the net of tragedy is yet another reason to think ahead when you are driving Eastern Sierra roads this spring, he said.
â€śThis is our community. We need to take care of it,â€ť he said.