Dr. Lynn Rogers speaks out against ruling in bear case

By KBJR News 1

May 30, 2014 Updated May 30, 2014 at 9:54 AM CST

Ely, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Dr. Lynn Rogers of The Wildlife Research Institute is speaking out against a Chief Administrative Law Judge's recommendation that says the Minnesota DNR has the right not to renew permits for radio collaring or installing any new bear den cams.

Bears don't have cell phones, so in order to make sure you can find the same one, you have to use a radio collar and as Dr. Lynn Rogers has found most bears will let you collar them as long as you lend a hand... now, his years of studying bears may be put to an end if the Minnesota DNR decides not to renew his research permits.

"The habituation of bears through hand feeding makes them less fearful of people and there are quite a few bears up there that have this habituation going on" said Chris Niskanen of the Minnesota DNR.

Because the bears have habituated, the DNR believes it is a public safety problem, but if you ask Rogers who has worked with the bears for 22 years, he'll tell you his research has led him to believe that bears don't go up to just anybody and people have actually had fewer problems with them in his area.

"Never feed a bear where you don't want to see it again, but here, there have been a dozen or so houses that have been feeding bears, the bears go there, that means they don't go to other houses and problems here were 83 percent lower than the statewide average" said Dr. Lynn Rogers.

Rogers disputes the ruling saying the DNR does not have sufficient evidence to show his bear research efforts are creating any danger to humans.

"We are one of 13 feeders in the area. The others had been doing it for years before we came for actually over 50 years. There's always been habituated food conditioned bears here and people didn't worry about it" said Dr. Rogers.

Dr. Rogers isn't the only one who could be affected by the new rules.

"We are the educational arm for Dr. Rogers' research and to refresh all of our videos and our information about black bears here in the Northern part of Minnesota, it's absolutely devastating" said Judy Thon of the North American Bear Center.

The North American Bear Center in Ely provides information to many and some believe that if the DNR goes through with their decision, it would be a blow to bear education.

"Just like we have eagle cams sponsored by other people, we can't have a den cam? Where children learn directly from the bears, I find that decision disturbing and concerning for the educational community" said Thon.

The DNR expects to submit a final decision in the Bear Case by early September.

Under Minnesota law, the judge's recommendation is not an order.
The DNR has the final decision on issuing permits.
Dr. Rogers plans to appeal the DNR's final decision if it coincides with the court's ruling.

Bryce Henry
bhenry@kbjr.com