Ely, Minn., bear researcher Rogers strikes compromise with state

Lynn Rogers can still monitor bears, but no more hand-feeding or webcams.

Minnesota’s controversial bear researcher, Lynn Rogers, can keep collars on 10 bears — for now.

But in a compromise reached with the help of a Ramsey County judge on Monday, Rogers and state wildlife officials agreed that for the most part he will stop hand-feeding his bears and cease broadcasting den-cam video to hundreds of school classrooms across the country.

Rogers’ practice of hand-feeding bears taught the animals to see humans as a source of food, creating a risk to the public, according to officials at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), who moved last month to cancel Rogers’ state research permit. Rogers sued, leading to Monday’s court hearing.

DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen said state officials wanted an agreement that allowed Rogers to continue his research but protected the public. The education component, he said, was less important than the research; the agreement allows Rogers’ researchers to copy the den-cam video onto DVDs that can be sent to the schools.

Under the agreement, tracking collars can remain on the 10 bears that wear them now, but no more can be added even if one bear dies. Rogers can place video cameras in two dens to record bear hibernation, and he can complete the four wildlife research classes that are scheduled for August; but if he or other researchers need to approach and feed a collared bear to change a battery or collect data, visiting students must stay 150 feet back.

Sue Mansfield, Rogers’ co-researcher, said hundreds of schoolchildren would be disappointed by the end of the streaming bear video, but praised the agreement for allowing the researchers to continue monitoring their bears. “That’s the most important thing,” she said after Monday’s court hearing. Rogers did not attend the proceedings.

The underlying issue — whether Rogers can renew his research permit — now goes before an administrative law judge, a process expected to take six to nine months.

Last month, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr announced that he would not renew the annual permit that allows Rogers to collar the bears and set up webcams in the bears’ dens.

DNR officials say they have received a rising number of complaints from neighbors in the Ely area who had run-ins with bears that have lost their fear of humans.

Since 2009 the DNR has received a total of 69 complaints from area residents, the agency said in court filings. In 2011, a group of 38 people signed a letter protesting the renewal of Rogers’ permit because, they said, his collared bears posed a risk to children among others.

Rogers denies that his bears are a risk: He said many people in the Ely area feed bears, and said there has never been a bear conflict that resulted in an injury to a person.

Bear on deck

But state wildlife officials say hand-feeding bears is different from erecting bird feeders or setting out food for bears. Rogers hand-feeds his collared bears, and others have reported that he and guests, who pay $2,500 for a three-day stay at the Wildlife Research Institute, hand-feed even uncollared bears routinely.

An affidavit submitted by the state from one former guest described how a bear tried to bite her on the center’s deck when she didn’t have any food for it. She said guests were allowed to mingle with bears unsupervised, and were encouraged to feed them by hand.

Monday’s agreement does not address such activity around the research center, Niskanen said. The DNR permit addresses only collared bears and den cameras. There is no law against feeding bears in Minnesota, “though we strongly discourage it,” he said.

In requesting a temporary restraining order against the DNR, Rogers argued that his research would suffer “irreparable” harm if he had to remove the collars from the bears by July 31 and if he were not allowed to set up den cameras.

Rogers also appealed his case to Gov. Mark Dayton, who declined to intervene but ordered the review by an administrative law judge.

  • related content

  • July 24: Lynn Rogers files suit against Minnesota DNR

    Tuesday July 23, 2013

    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.

  • Lynn Rogers, right, made his way into the Governor's office in the Cap...

  • 2010: Lynn Rogers, founder and executive director of the North American Bear Center, approached Brave Heart, a collared black bear in his study. Rogers was able to change the batteries in the 400-pound bear’s GPS collar and record its heart rate without a tranquilizer.

  • Rogers spoke to the media on Monday after meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton about his research.

  • Hope, a black bear cub, became famous when her 2010 birth was recorded by a “bear-cam” and broadcast on the Internet.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 114 FINAL
Portland 120
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 4 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
NJIT 78
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Will Major League Soccer be successful in Minnesota?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close