Ely, MN (NNCNOW.com) - On Tuesday night, the Ely City Council voted unanimously to send a request to the DNR and Governor Dayton to request Dr. Lynn Rogers' permit to research bears in Northern Minnesota be reinstated.
The resolution states that "Dr. Roger's research has brought National and Worldwide recognition to the City of Ely, through hundreds of visitors that have come to the Wildlife Research Institute and hundreds of thousands that have viewed the birth of the wild bear cubs and other bear behavior".
Ely Mayor Ross Petersen said he expects a formal proposal will be submitted within the next few weeks.
For black bear researcher Dr. Lynn Rogers, the reason for keeping his interactive bear research program alive is simple.
"People who used to avoid this area because of the bears now want to come here because of the bears," said Rogers, standing outside his research station just outside of Ely.
Rogers says that adds up for the city of Ely, adding that a quarter of a million dollars annually comes in from research followers eager to assist the area's need, "...donations to the food shelf, computers for the high school, playground equipment for the city park, $100,000 for this Trailhead Lodge that's being put up in Bear Head Lake State Park," said Rogers.
...not to mention donations that benefit other tourist attractions.
"...repairs to the Tower–Soudan mine after the fire, $65,000 to the Ely Wolf Center, which we view as a partner in a way," Rogers added.
According to Ely Mayor Ross Petersen, all of this—coupled with the array of documentary–style films that have been made through Rogers's bear research—has earned Ely's ranking as the coolest small town in America.
"Publicity that we get—I bet it's over a million dollars a year," said Mayor Petersen in his office Tuesday.
Petersen says a multitude of issues—from a cold spring and high gas prices to road construction and unfavorable publicity with Sustainable Ely—has damaged the city's tourism revenue.
"...and then to have the DNR give us this kick in the teeth—it really hurts, and it makes me mad," said Peterson.
Mayor Petersen presented a resolution to the Ely City Council asking that the DNR reinstate Dr. Rogers' license, which will then be sent to Governor Dayton. Peterson and Rogers say the hope is that the issue can be settled outside of a lengthy court battle.