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Judge Sides with DNR in Bear Collaring Dispute

Updated: 05/27/2014 11:39 PM
Created: 05/27/2014 12:42 PM WDIO.com

Minnesota's chief administrative law judge has sided with the Department of Natural Resources in a dispute over a research permit for controversial Ely bear researcher Dr. Lynn Rogers.

Last year, the DNR informed Rogers that he wouldn't get a new permit to radio-collar wild bears or videotape them in their dens.  Rogers, who was known to hand-feed the animals and gained worldwide attention for webcasting the birth of cubs, had been licensed to do research on wild bears since 1999.

In a decision released Tuesday, Judge Tammy L. Pust said the DNR had cause not to renew Rogers' permit. Her recommendations now go to the DNR, where Commissioner Tom Landwehr has said he'll designate someone who was not involved in the case to make a final decision. That independent reviewer has 90 days to make that decision. Judge Pust is recommending he deny the permit again.

Rogers said he will go to the Minnesota Court of Appeals if the DNR won't restore his permit.

Prust also found that collaring a bear and the intentional repeated handling of a bear also require a permit, contradicting suggestions from Rogers' attorney that no permit is needed for such research.  She says Rogers remains free to study and feed bears, but he can't collar them or visit their dens without a permit.

DNR officials testified at a hearing earlier this year that Rogers' practice of hand-feeding bears created a public safety risk, and they questioned the value of his research.  Rogers said that while the bears he studies may be habituated to people from feeding, the animals aren't more dangerous.

(Copyright 2014 WDIO-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Dr. Lynn Rogers

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MN AREAS AFFECTED: Koochiching; St. Louis
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