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Associated Press, Published July 23 2013

Minnesota bear researcher sues DNR

ST. PAUL — Minnesota bear researcher Lynn Rogers sued the state Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday, asking the court to allow Rogers to continue his work putting radio collars on wild bears.

The lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County, also asks that Rogers be allowed to continue videotaping bears through his popular Internet "den cams," the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported.

On Monday, Rogers asked Gov. Mark Dayton to overturn the DNR's decision to not renew the permit for Rogers' Ely-based Wildlife Research Institute. Dayton declined to do so, but said Rogers could seek a review by an administrative law judge.

The DNR contends Rogers' practice of hand-feeding bears has made them too accustomed to humans, creating a public safety threat.

"Since 2009, we've received 58 complaints from this area about troublesome bears, and we're hearing more and more from citizens in that area who say they don't feel safe around bears who see humans as a source of food," DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen told the Pioneer Press.

Rogers disputes that his methods make bears unafraid of humans.

Niskanen told The Associated Press that the DNR plans to file its response by the end of the week.

The agency contends Rogers must remove radio collars off 10 or so bears currently wearing them by July 31. If collars are not removed, the batteries could die. If a collar leads to health problems for a bear, researchers would have difficulty tracking it down.

Rogers contends that the lack of collars and bear cams would essentially end his career and work.

Rogers attracted a devoted following online when he installed a camera in the den of a bear named Lily. She gave birth live to a cub named Hope before a worldwide audience on the Internet in 2010, and then had two more cubs in 2011. His North American Bear Center museum in Ely is one of the area's top tourist attractions, and he retains a license to put captive bears on display there.

DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr also has faulted the quality of the research Rogers has carried out under his DNR permit, saying Rogers has not presented evidence of any research he's published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 14 years.

In his lawsuit, Rogers lists "four peer-reviewed articles that relate directly to the permitted activities."

The lawsuit also maintains that Rogers' research is not a threat to public safety.

"To Dr. Rogers' and the Research Institute's knowledge and belief, no person has ever been injured by a collared bear that has been the subject of their research," the lawsuit said.


Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.