Bear researcher wins reprieve

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, July 30, 2013

ST. PAUL — A Minnesota bear researcher known for broadcasting the births of cubs over the Internet won a temporary reprieve Monday in his fight with the state over its decision not to renew his permits to radio-collar wild bears.

With help from a Ramsey County judge, researcher Lynn Rogers and the Department of Natural Resources settled on a temporary agreement that allows Rogers to keep radio collars on 10 bears. Rogers also will be allowed to continue hand-feeding bears around his research center near Ely in northeastern Minnesota under certain conditions.

However, the deal bans him from putting live den cams on the Internet, Minnesota Public Radio News reported. That practice had drawn international attention to his work.

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The DNR questions the academic value of Rogers’ work and an agency spokesman said the DNR will be closely monitoring him. DNR officials contend Rogers’ practice of hand-feeding bears taught them to see humans as a source of food, creating a risk to the public.

The agency said it still wants to revoke Rogers’ research permit, which was set to end Wednesday.






Rogers, 74, said Monday that he is pleased with the compromise, which came after Rogers sued the DNR last week.

“It’s just unbelievable that we could take on the DNR and win. We have such a strong case. The judge saw that,” Rogers told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. “So we are allowed to continue and we’ll have an investigation.”

DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen said the agency didn’t want any agreement that allowed Rogers to continue his work or continue collaring bears. He said the DNR agreed to the compromise to “allow us to move to an administrative law judge process where an objective, impartial judge can weigh the merits of our arguments.”

Rogers’ video from inside bear dens was broadcast to hundreds of classrooms across the country.

Sue Mansfield, Rogers’ research assistant, said hundreds of schoolchildren would be disappointed by the end of the streaming video. But Mansfield praised the agreement for allowing the researchers to continue monitoring their bears.

The case is expected to go before a state administrative law judge in the next six to nine months.

Under the compromise, Rogers agreed not to hand-feed bears except to replace, charge or maintain batteries on radio collars, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported. An exception allows Rogers or his associates to hand-feed bears once during each of four previously booked courses scheduled for August. Members of the public pay thousands of dollars to assist Rogers in his research by accompanying him into the field, with proceeds going to the Wildlife Research Institute, founded by Rogers.