DNR downgrades permit for bear researcher Lynn Rogers

Rogers feeds June by hand
Wildlife Research Institute biologist Lynn Rogers hand feeds June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012 in the woods near Ely, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has cut the number of bears that controversial researcher Lynn Rogers can collar near his research station outside of Ely.

The new DNR research permit issued in late December reduces the number of GPS tracking collars Rogers can place on bears from 15 to 12. The new permit also expires in July rather than December.

DNR wildlife research manager Lou Cornicelli said Rogers needs to publish more peer-reviewed studies with the data he's collecting.

"We don't feel he needs that many bears with radio collars on," Cornicelli said. "With the length of time the permit's been out there, there should be some science coming out of this."

Rogers calls the change "devastating." He said he's authored three peer-reviewed articles in the past six years.

"We've gotten into things that nobody has done before, like the stuff with the den cams, that half of their life is the least studied area of bear biology," Rogers said. "We're getting it; it's groundbreaking research."

The DNR argues those were not based on recent data.

Rogers' internet videos of mother bears in dens have a worldwide following. But the DNR and Rogers have been at odds for years, largely over Rogers' practice of hand feeding bears. The agency says its getting complaints from people encountering bears who aren't afraid of people.

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