The decision to not renew Dr. Rogers’ research permit came after careful consideration of the public safety implications of the permitted activity. The habituation of bears to humans — including hand feeding and close interactions between bears and people — creates a very real public safety issue. Habituation teaches bears to seek out humans for food; there are an estimated 50 or more bears in the Eagles Nest Township area that are subjects of this research study. Many citizens in the Eagles Nest area have told the DNR they have suffered damage and don’t feel safe around these bears and we take those complaints seriously. That, combined with the lack of research outcomes, led the agency to the decision to not renew the permit.
The DNR has been communicating with Dr. Rogers for years regarding the concerns about public safety and expectations of research permits. Numerous letters, telephone calls and other correspondence have been communicated back and forth since 2007. It should be noted that Dr. Rogers has had extraordinary access to DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr and Gov. Mark Dayton to make his case. Commissioner Landwehr also made a special trip to Ely to visit with Dr. Rogers two years ago.
The DNR does not issue research permits to sustain private fundraising efforts; they are issued under Minnesota statutes and rules that identify when permits can be issued or denied. This decision also does not affect the educational activities of the North American Bear Center as that facility operates under two other DNR permits that are unaffected. Dr. Rogers may continue to conduct bear education with the captive bears he maintains under a DNR game farm license and salvage wild animals for display at the Bear Center. Dr. Rogers is also able to synthesize, write and peer-review publish the data he has collected in the past 14 years under past DNR permits. Finally, Dr. Rogers has declined the option of having a formal administrative review of the DNR decision not to renew the permit. DNR welcomes the opportunity to have this issue considered by an objective third party.