Chris Erskine at the Santa Monica Library

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More about the book:

The incredible story of how one man went from a hired hunter to becoming one of America’s top champions for this iconic animal.

**A USA TODAY Bestseller**

In this wondrous and eye-opening exploration, Steve Searles, the renowned and respected "Bear Whisperer" of Mammoth Lakes, takes the reader on a journey into the lives of these remarkable creatures and the world we share.

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?

Unlike us, bears waste little time on unreasonable fears. Bears are fully in the moment. They have an inner peace that seems to offset their power and strength. That may explain why no other animal on the planet is as revered as the bear.

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.

More about the authors:

Steve Searles is a self-taught bear expert who’s been working with the animals for nearly three decades. Since 1996, he has been the wildlife specialist for the ski town of Mammoth Lakes, Calif., where he developed a global reputation for his novel approaches to keeping residents—and the bears—safe. Steve founded the town’s “Don’t Feed Our Bears” program and helped formulate Yosemite National Park’s initial bear program. In 2010, he was the topic of the reality show “The Bear Whisperer” on Animal Planet. He is a native of Orange County, Calif.

Chris Erskine is a nationally known columnist, with most of his work appearing in the Los Angeles Times and distributed to 600 papers nationwide. As an editor there, he was part of two Pulitzer Prize-winning teams. He is best known to readers for his weekly pieces on life in suburban Los Angeles. This is his fifth book. He is a native of Chicago and now lives in Los Angeles.

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