Wildlife researcher Lynn Rogers is taking the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to court after state officials said the Ely biologist no longer could place radio collars on wild bears.
The DNR refused to renew Rogers’ annual permit that allowed him to collar the bears and set up webcams in the bears’ dens. The officials claim the bears are getting too comfortable around people, posing a risk to the public. Rogers has until July 31 to remove the radio collars on the 11 bears he tracks and often feeds by hand.
But on Tuesday, Rogers filed suit in Ramsey County District Court, saying the DNR based its decision on “factually inaccurate” information and shouldn’t be allowed to deny, revoke or modify his permit.
The court filing comes a day after Rogers failed to persuade Gov. Mark Dayton to intervene and allow him to continue to collar the bears. Instead, the governor said the state will ask for a review of its decision by an administrative law judge.
At the very least, Rogers is asking the court for a temporary restraining order that will allow him to keep the collars on the bears until his case can be decided. Rogers argues that his research will suffer “irreparable” harm if he has to remove the collars from the bears by July 31 and if he is not allowed to set up cameras in the bears’ dens.
Rogers says he and his Wildlife Research Institute has been continuously tracking some collared bears for more than 10 years. “Once the collars are removed, Dr. Rogers and the Research Institute will lose the ability to find the bears to continue their research,” the lawsuit says.
Rogers has a following of hundreds of thousands of Facebook, Twitter and Web devotees. Supporters donated $600,000 to the Research Institute and the expansive North American Bear Center that he heads.
DNR officials said they plan to file a response to the suit by the end of the week.