Reporting Bill Hudson
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP/WCCO) – A Minnesota bear researcher remains under orders to remove radio collars from 10 bears he’s studying by the end of the month, but will be allowed to appeal.
Bear researcher Lynn Rogers sounded optimistic after a meeting with Gov. Mark Dayton and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr on Monday. But Landwehr said afterward he does not plan to lift his decision to rescind Rogers’ permit to keep tracking collars on bears in the Ely area.
He says there’s usually no appeal from that kind of decision, but he has decided to let Rogers present his case to an administrative law judge.
“We are continuing the habituation of bears by hand feeding them. They look to people for food and that’s not desirable at all,” Landwehr said.
The DNR says Rogers’ hand-feeding of bears makes them too accustomed to humans. The agency also says Rogers has failed to publish his research.
Rogers, who has worked with black bears for 46 years, denies both claims. He maintains the bears are no threat to the public – despite the 11 nuisance complaints from area neighbors.
“You can lead bears to problems with food just as easily as lead them out of trouble with food. What people are focusing on is how it leads bears into trouble,” Rogers said.
His research, including webcams in the bears’ dens, gave the public a window to hibernating and birthing bears. Teachers like Dana Coleman used it in the classroom.
“It was huge, it was vital, it really was,” Coleman said.
Rogers says his work is at a critical point, and ending it now would be a public disservice.
He says he doesn’t want to pursue legal challenge to the permit denial, and hopes there is still time for the agency and the governor to reconsider.
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