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Jane Goodall backs Ely bear researcher in dispute with DNR

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Famed African chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall sent a letter to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton last week in support of Lynn Rogers, the black bear researcher who's been battling with the state over his research methods.

"I believe it would be a scientific tragedy if this research, conducted by a scientist who truly cares about his subjects, is brought to an untimely close," Goodall said in the letter obtained by the Duluth News Tribune.

In June, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources informed Rogers that it would not renew his research permit because his methods, such as hand-feeding bears, have caused the animals to lose their fear of humans and become a public safety threat.

Rogers has argued that his work is basic research on bear behavior and serves to educate thousands of people about black bears, the newspaper reported.

Rogers took the case to court and sought a restraining order against the DNR's decision.

In a temporary agreement, Rogers is allowed to keep radio collars on up to 10 bears, but live web cameras must stay turned off and hand-feeding is only allowed to maintain collars.

In Goodall's letter to Dayton, she compares Rogers' research to her famous work with chimpanzees.

"Like chimpanzees, bears are long-lived individuals, each with his and her own personality. Long-term research in which individuals are known allows one to ask questions that are not possible in short term or ecological studies," Goodall wrote.

The Duluth News Tribune says the agreement will hold until Rogers' case challenging the DNR comes before a state administrative law judge, likely later this year or early 2014.

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