Lynn Rogers and the DNR
State agencies have a solemn duty to treat everyone fairly

Officials within the Department of Natural Resources are given wide-ranging authority over the management of millions of acres of public lands as well as all of the state’s wild fish and game populations. And with that authority comes great responsibility to be fair in the exercise of that inherent power.

And that has been our Number One concern over the troubling relationship between bear biologist Lynn Rogers and the DNR. That longstanding battle took another turn this week with the decision issued by Chief Administrative Law Judge Tammy Pust that upheld the DNR’s suspension of Rogers research permit.

Pust’s 69-page decision reflects the often-stark differences of opinion regarding the value and nature of Roger’s research, and her findings of fact offered new details about the longstanding internal debates within the DNR about how to deal with the Ely bear researcher. While the judge’s final conclusion, that the DNR has the authority and adequate cause to deny a permit to Rogers, was a victory for the agency, it’s clear the judge was not impressed by the DNR’s actions in many cases. At one point, in late April, the judge even sanctioned the agency for failing to respond properly to a request by Rogers’ legal team for certain agency documents.

It’s no surprise that Rogers is a frustration to the DNR. He is opinionated, seeks publicity, and has challenged scientific orthodoxy, and DNR policy on occasion. He has also, unfortunately, at times seemed to lose his scientific objectivity and counseled actions, such as hand-feeding of bears, that most reasonable people would see as dangerous, to both humans and bears. His actions have not only made him a target of criticism, they have made his study bears the target of a small number of disgruntled hunters. Sometimes, he can be his own worst enemy.

But everyone, even the occasionally difficult, must be treated fairly by the state, be it the DNR or any other agency. When a government official makes decisions regarding anyone that are based on personal dislike, professional rivalry, retaliation, disagreement, or any other factor other than the public interest, that official abuses his or her authority. Which is why we have been critical of the agency when evidence of bias towards Rogers has surfaced, as it has on more than one occasion.

We’ve seen even more troubling evidence of DNR bias towards Rogers on another issue, this time affecting the North American Bear Center. We hope to be able to report more on that soon.

In the meantime, it remains entirely unclear whether Judge Pust’s ruling will have much practical effect on the bear situation in Eagles Nest Township. It’s ironic that the actions effectively prohibited by the judge—affixing radio collars and the use of den cams— have little connection to the public safety concerns cited by the DNR. According to the DNR, it’s the frequent hand-feeding and other close interactions between Rogers and others, and his study bears, that are creating the public safety threat. Yet Rogers can continue those activities to his heart’s content, according to the judge, who notes that bear feeding does not require a DNR permit. He can continue to offer study courses and, because he no longer has DNR permit restrictions to worry about, he can once again offer participants of those sessions up close and personal interactions with bears.

Without radio collars, it’s likely that it will be tougher, at times, for Rogers to locate his study animals. But most of them are regular visitors to Rogers’ feeding stations, so he may be able to continue his monitoring of the bears by other means. Rogers has proven himself to be both creative and stubborn over the years, so don’t be surprised to see him resort to other inventive means to continue his work.

If so, the DNR will have a continuing obligation to treat him with the fairness and impartiality that should, by right, be accorded every citizen of Minnesota. With authority comes that most basic responsibility.

Comments

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clm1117

I'm not sure what this article about as it points to absolutely no bias. The DNR has shown no bias against Rogers. In reality they have bent over backwards to accommodate a man that has shown no desire to even meet them halfway.

Now coming from a paper that allows Rogers to make statements like - "Rogers and his research associate Sue Mansfield are hesitant to talk at length about the situation due to the current legal case against the DNR, but say they have evidence that their bears were specifically targeted by a small group of hunters, and that at least some DNR officials may have been involved in assisting them. “The DNR definitely knew about the targeting of June,” said Mansfield." - without a follow up question I guess this is to be expected.

However, I'd like to see a little more in the way of investigative reporting with questioning of the "evidence" as well.

Rogers deserved to lose his permit. It's not an unorthodoxy of science that caused it - it's a lack of reasons to provide a permit. And that is solely Rogers' fault.

Thursday, May 29, 2014 | Report this
snowshoe2

Reading a book by Stephen Herrero about black bear attacks wrote in 1987. Going over attacks for a couple of decades around the 1960 era. 90% of the attacks came from bears habituated from human feeding. That is pretty strong evidence and I believe he had good number of cases to refer to.

Monday, June 2, 2014 | Report this
orrcountry

That's right, shoe. That's why they say "don't feed the bears". While on a trip to the Canadian Rockies years ago (and Canadian Parks from here to there), the Canadian Park Service issued pamphlets urging visitors to not feed the wildlife. Evidently, Rogers ignored common sense and went ahead and fed them anyway.

Monday, June 2, 2014 | Report this
donminnjay

The DNR hasn't proven anything in the the aspect of the RESEARCH BEARS being a threat to humans in the ELY area. All a person has to do is go on the internet an see articles an videos of black bears being 'closer' to humans that some 'might' see as having no fear of humans. The black bear in DULUTH licking a person. A black bear climbing up a hunting stand with hunters in it. A black bear sitting in a persons room (DAVID LETTERMAN). A bear an cubs swinging in a hammock. Etc,etc,etc . The list could be of thousands of bear an human interaction an none were near the research bears area. None were conflicts an the bears didn't run away afraid of people. People just coexisted with the bears an understood them.

The DNR was proven to have changed records, an reworded reports to make a simple bear encounter in the ELY area become a report on a nuisance bear an a mark against the research bears. That can't be denied. The DNR then used that as a basis of saying the bears were a threat to humans. A false basis. The shooting of a bear by the DNR wasnt even a research bear as the DNR claims, but a hurt (human raised) bear in the wild. The collar was put on to help them locate it an help it with its injuries.

The DNR spokesperson has stated that LIVE BLACK BEAR DEN CAMS serve ''no'' educational value since the bears sleep the winter away. I guess all the hours of videos of bear an cubs interacting in the den were never watched by anybody in the DNR ?? The play, nursing, eating snow an ice was never viewed by any of them ? How can the DNR make such a outlandish statement about LIVE BLACK BEAR DEN CAMS if they have never watched any ?? To top it off, the DNR had LIVE EAGLE CAMS . Wouldn't these be of no educational value too then by their standards ??

The 'judges review' has shown that most of the problems with the research, was a 'personal issue' by a few in the DNR against the researchers. The judge even mentioned that the DNR'S records of bear an human conflicts an reports was substandard.

If we held the DNR to the same standards as they viewed the bear research, the DNR would get a F. The DNR needs to get into the 21st century an be accountable to the taxpayers of the state. There needs to be an overseer over them, plain an simple.

Monday, June 2, 2014 | Report this
snoshoo93

Bravo to you, Don-Minn-Jay....you are a voice of reason among the comments so far. One of the commenters above has a lawsuit filed against him in the amount of $1.5+ Million for his activities in a similar situation (in a far-away state) as the subject of this article, so his spin on the MN unpleasantness between Lynn Rogers and the MN-DNR has no credibility or veracity...he actually contributed greatly toward it. Judge Pust was appointed by Gov. Dayton, as was Tom Landwehr. Do we really expect a positive outcome for WRI when the Gov. himself asked Dr. Rogers "why do you need to follow those bears around anyway?" DUH.. Yes, envy of and personal issues with Lynn Rogers is behind 99% of this. It's been going on for many years, but since Hope was born...and later killed (because it was "legal", so why not do it to hurt WRI) and new people have gotten involved via Facebook and email, it's gotten DEADLY serious and we've not seen the end of what's to come in that area. It's gone waaay beyond a "chess game" with the lives of people and their families, not to mention the innocent bears who are cooperative to being RESEARCH bears.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
snoshoo93

I want to mention that I love this article...the best I've read since "the verdict". Talk about making no sense...in addition to the nonsense you pointed out, the judge even cited some very manipulated evidence (which was stolen to begin with) and forgot that the correct word "backhanded" isn't nearly the same as "punched"...

You are right that Lynn Rogers is both *stubborn* and *creative*....what FINE QUALITIES for a man to have, especially when it involves being a trailblazer in his life-long career. That's one of the best things about Lynn Rogers.....he hears a different drummer and sets his own course. Very admirable qualities: Stubborn and Creative

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
bearlover

For the DNR to use a hate group for its case with miss dated pictures, altered video, pictures taken by someone who befriended Dr. Rogers to get discriminating pictures, and a disgruntled fan who broke every rule at the bear course then took revenge, is one of the most unethical, non professional things I have seen a agency do. If you followed the case at all there was nothing but bias from the DNR. As far as the bears being targeted, look no further than the hate page that put the target on them, themselves by the way of a bango card listing all the bears they wanted targeted and killed. The name of the page is proof enough. They always put the blame on Dr. Rogers to take away their part in trying to destroy him. If there is any investigation it should be against the corruption of the DNR and a group of people who started the defamation, slander, and libel against Dr. Rogers and the WRI for no other reason than their own agenda, from people that have never even been to Mn. Dr. Rogers, Sue Mansfield owes them no explanation to what they know or how. As proof in the trial the DNR never bent over backwards to accommodate Dr. Rogers did everything according to the permit and it was the DNR that would not even meet with Dr .Rogers but ignored his request to meet with him. Dr. Rogers taught more people, more about the lives of bears than the DMR could ever hope to when it comes to education

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
clm1117

As you look through the comments on the Rogers' side you see nothing but true believers with blinders on. In one breath all over the internet they state what great lawyers Rogers has. In the next breath they scream falsified evidence. Well where were these great lawyers that allowed all this false evidence in?

And to impugn not only the commissioner, but the governor, and the judge show exactly how involved in the cult they are.

No matter.. Justice was served.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
orrcountry

Snoshoo93: To say, and admit, that Rogers is "stubborn" and "creative" are admirable qualities begs the question. Those traits are admirable only if they are directed to one's personal life. In this case, Rogers is administering those traits with wild animals that don't belong to him, but rather the woods and the DNR (as custodian of the woods and wild animals). I am of Finnish-American ancestry and my wife is of German-American ancestry. If I try to be "stubborn" and "creative" in our house (and the same goes for my wife), nothing good comes from it. That's a lesson if life that Rogers is yet to learn.

The bears are wild animals. Leave them be that way.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
bearlover

The false information wasn't proved because they didn't have you or your buddies on the stand to prove it. I do believe they proved your star witness was dishonest with her false information and stolen identities. They did prove the DNR to be dishonest and lying with false information as the judge stated. And I wouldn't talk about anyone impugning someone with your history of impugning others to such extent you have a lawsuit against you for it. If the outcome would have been different you'd be all over all of them with a vengeance. Would that make you a cult? Instead of blaming others and attacking their integrity why don't you disprove what we said? Because you can't. You have no defense to anything that was said so you go on the offense as usual. And Dr. Rogers never claimed the bears belonged to him. And they don't belong to the DNR. The DNR doesn't own any wildlife.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
orrcountry

bearlover: You are intoxicated. I didn't say the bears belong to the DNR. They belong to the woods (and ALL of us, even us locals that you disdain) and the DNR is vested with responsibility to protect all wildlife, including bears, and fish too.

Unfortunately, you appear to be overly obsessed with the bully (Dr.) Rogers. It's time for your boy to go to a nursing home.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
donminnjay

I see just a typical response by a few that want the research bears killed. They call supporters of bear education an research names. They claim we are in a 'cult' because we support bear education. They post mocking pictures.

We support bear education an the research because it has taught the world the true unseen lives of black bears in the wild. From the unseen life in a hibernation den to their habits after emerging. Never before was this witnessed an never before was a mass audience privileged to be part of the learning process. Hundreds of classrooms an thousands of students watched in awe as the den cams revealed the action in a black bear den. All this was provided by fan donations with NO COST TO THE STATE or TAXPAYERS.

The anti-research people can continue to call supporters of bear education a cult. They can continue to call us names an mock us an post demeaning pictures. But their actions just make themselves look bad, very bad. We will continue to support the research.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
SherryGuzzi

Thank you for this balanced article on a contentious situation. We have visited Dr. Rogers and his Wildlife Research Institute. We were impressed with the wealth of information he has collected with his radio-collared bears, and by following bears in the woods, to monitor foods eaten, territories, and other natural behaviors. The bears we saw were no more conditioned to humans than the bears here at Lake Tahoe - they are familiar with people, but avoid them for the most part, unless food is available (here at Tahoe it's people leaving out garbage, bird-seed or dog food). It seemed very valuable to be able to collar bears without having to inject them with sedatives, which can be toxic. (Several bears here at Tahoe have been killed when Nevada Dept. of Wildlife personnel miscalculated a dose.) It is extremely distressing that certain hunters keep shooting research bears, which are clearly collared and marked with fluorescent tapes, making it hard to believe these bears are not deliberately targeted. Hopefully, not having collars might even help. But disallowing den-cams is totally inconsistent and wrong-headed. As someone commented, eagle-nest-cams are allowed. And a remote camera cannot be said to be conditioning bears to humans, so why? We find here at Tahoe that providing more information about our local wildlife is the best way to promote well-being for both the wildlife and the people lucky enough to be living nearby. Research should be promoted, not attacked.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
snoshoo93

Don, bearlover and Sherry....you leave me nearly speechless with nothing more to add (at this time). Your comments are SUPERB and only the ignorant or someone with an ugly agenda to hurt as many (people and animals, specifically bears) as possible can't or won't see reality. Extremely WEAK comebacks so far..they have no case. Thanks again to the writer of the article for GETTING what is going on and writing it clearly. "The Fat Lady has NOT sung yet"... stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
orrcountry

Hunters will continue to shoot collared bears because they are wild game, not pets as some of the posters here seem to think. Regardless if the so-called (Dr.) Rogers (see, I called him a fictious name) wishes they were his private bears that he, through social media, chooses to make a ton of money on.

I don't hunt bears, never have. I have friends who do, my father who was in the grocery business processed bear for his friends. And by the way, it is quite tasty, although greasy.

The DNR will prevail, as well they should, as they use science to manage the bear population and keep them healthy.

Those of you that insist on loving bears your way, go to the zoo. In fact, do all of us multi-generational locals a favor and stay at the zoo so we can come and study you. And your so-called (Dr.) Rogers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
orrcountry

And maybe we can put a collar and orange tape on you so we can track your habits as well!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
bearlover

Did I read this wrong? don't belong to him, but rather the woods and the DNR

I love this comment " DNR is vested with responsibility to protect all wildlife, including bears, and fish too." Evidently this doesn't apply to all the moose calves that their killing by collaring them. I think you misunderstand who's a bully. Give me a intelligent answer on why he needs to go to a nursing home. Because he has a hearing problem? It's obvious he has more wits and brains about him than you. I don't drink. And I'm not obsessed. I think that word belongs to your friend. I only distain unethical hunters that kill research bears to teach him a lesson .We have never called the bears pets nor has Dr. Rogers claimed he wanted them as his private bears. Now you want to make anymore stupid comments with your degrading and sarcastic remarks. You can't argue with facts so you resort to false information? You have presented no facts that are anywhere near the truth., This was a fair and truthful article, well written and you can't seem to handle that. I will not waste anymore time with your senseless remarks. Go back to playing in your sand box.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
clm1117

Well, guess Rogers should have objected to some of the falsified evidence then. Don't you think?

Also since there were over 800 exhibits and we provided nowhere near that amount of evidence - though we did quite well thank you very much - we can't take the credit you would give to us.

I stand by my earlier statement - the evidence used in this case was honest and forthright. And it was not objected to by Rogers' lawyers.

That being the case justice is served. And served quite well.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this
orrcountry

No problem bearlover. Let's put a camera in your bedroom so we all can observe your activities. If you are hetrosexual, there may be little interest. However, if you are a queer, that could be interesting research, especially for those of us that don't understand that behavior. Much like watching the bears, isn't it?

(Dr.) Rogers needs to be examined for possible admittance to a skilled nursing facility that deals with persistent deviant behavior. He has been told by the DNR that he has been a bad boy, the Minneapolis RedStar Outdoors Editor Dennis Anderson has called for him to give up his winless fight, he many level headed people suspect that his demented personality will result in an appeal.

The bears are wild animals. They taste good. And if hunters find it easier to shoot them and process the meat, then that's life in the north woods. And, of course, they must have a valid hunting license and abide by the law.

Now, go back and hug your teddy bear, watch Yogi and BooBoo, and cry yourself to sleep.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 | Report this