The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has confirmed that the research bear known as "June" had been shot by a hunter near Ely.
The DNR had earlier reported one of researcher Lynn Rogers’ radio-collared bears went missing Friday and was presumed dead. A man had turned in the collar to the DNR office in Tower, and now the DNR confirms that a hunter legally shot June on Friday, the Pioneer Press reported.
The Ely-based Minnesota Wildlife Research Institute had noted on its website Sunday that "many tears" had been shed by local wildlife enthusiasts. The institute works with Rogers on the "longest and most detailed black bear study and the largest educational outreach program ever done for black bears."
DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen told MPR that the agency urges hunters not to shoot collared bears, but that it is not illegal, MPR reports.
Two other collared bears have been shot this month, one injured Sept. 5 and another killed Sept. 13, MPR notes.
June's death comes about two weeks after the death of "Dot," a 13-year-old bear that had been collared 12 years – longer than any other bear in Rogers' studies. Only eight bears remained collared for Rogers' research, after a settlement last summer that allowed him to continue his studies, despite concerns about the validity of his research.
Minnesota's bear hunting season runs through Oct. 13.