Bear researcher Lynn Rogers has lost his battle with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which issued a final decision Wednesday to deny Rogers the permit he needs to continue his research on the black bear population in northern Minnesota, the Associated Press reports.
Rogers has been in a dispute with the DNR for the past few years over his research methods, which include hand-feeding the animals, handling them and visiting them in their dens.
The DNR first issued Rogers a permit to collar bears in 1999. But in June 2013 the agency decided not to reissue it. Rogers appealed that decision, and unsuccessfully asked Gov. Mark Dayton to intervene on his behalf.
A judge heard arguments in the case earlier this year, and in May, she agreed with the DNR’s decision to withdraw Rogers’ bear research permit.
Rogers fed the bears to get close enough to collar them with tracking devices. The DNR maintained the feeding caused the bears to see humans as a source of food, thereby endangering the public. The agency also argued that Rogers failed to publish enough scientific research to justify his permit.
Rogers, for his part, said the DNR’s claims are unfounded, and he has accused the DNR of falsifying bear complaints to turn the public against his research.
Rogers has been studying bears for more than 40 years, gaining worldwide attention for his work with the animals. More recently, his research center’s website has attracted millions of visitors who watched Lily, a black bear, via a webcam installed in her den as she gave birth to twin cubs.
The DNR's final decision means Rogers can no longer collar bears or install webcams in their dens.
Rogers removed radio collars from the eight bears that were wearing them in July, shortly after the judge issued her ruling.
He will still be allowed to feed bears at the Wildlife Research Institute, to “educate the public” through field study courses, and use already filmed footage from bear dens in academic and educational settings.
Rogers told the Duluth News Tribune on Wednesday that he will appeal the DNR’s decision to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
"I just talked to my attorney and we’re quite optimistic," he told the News Tribune. "There’s no way the DNR can make this decision objectively when they’ve been targeting me and our bears for years."