Bear researcher Lynn Rogers' permit at issue in hearing

Examining June
Wildlife Research Institute biologist Sue Mansfield hand-feeds June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, while fellow WRI biologist Lynn Rogers records June's heart rate Thursday, August 30, 2012 near Ely, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR

A dispute over the research permit of controversial black bear researcher Lynn Rogers goes before an administrative law judge in St. Paul on Monday.

Previously: Researcher feeds bears, battles critics

Rogers' work collaring research bears near Ely and placing web cams in their dens has won him legions of online fans and made him the star of several BBC documentaries. But it's also raised the ire of Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources.

Last year the agency declined to renew Rogers' research permit, arguing that he hasn't published enough peer-reviewed research. Officials also say his practice of hand feeding bears to gain their trust has habituated them to people, putting public safety at risk.

Rogers declined to comment in advance of the hearing, saying only that "it's going to be so different from what the DNR is telling the public."

Rogers and the DNR reached a compromise with the help of a Ramsey County judge last August that has allowed him to temporarily continue his controversial research.

The deal allowed him to keep collars on the bears he has already collared. But it only allows him to hand feed bears to help him change or maintain their collars. It also doesn't allow footage from web camps placed inside bear dens to be streamed directly to classrooms; that has to be distributed by DVD.

After Administrative Law Judge Tammy Pust makes her decision as to whether she believes the DNR erred in not renewing Rogers' permit, the process then calls for a DNR staff member who has not been involved in Lynn Rogers' research to make a final decision. If that decision goes against Rogers, he would then have the option of appealing the decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

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