Bear scientist's research license pulled

June 29, 2013 at 2:57 PM
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ELY, Minn., June 29 (UPI) -- Minnesota wildlife officials have yanked a research permit for a popular bear scientist because they said his up-close contact with the animals was a danger.

Lynn Rogers, 74, has operated the North American Bear Center near Ely, Minn., for 14 years. Rogers has become something of a celebrity scientist for his videos showing him hand-feeding the 50 or so black bears that live in his wildlife habitat. He has 140,000 Facebook followers and has starred in documentaries he says have been seen by 100 million people worldwide.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources pulled Rogers' permit, saying he has "habituated" the bears, making them unafraid of -- and in some cases reliant on -- human interaction.

The DNR told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune there have been reports of bears sticking their heads inside car windows and roaming populated areas, behavior they blame on Rogers' "extremely unprofessional behavior with research bears."

"Bears are breaking into cabins, sticking their heads in cars and behaving in ways wild bears would not otherwise do," DNR Wildlife Research Manager Lou Cornicelli said. "The public safety issues have become intolerable from our perspective."

Rogers has been given until July to remove all radio collars from the bears, though the center itself may remain open.

Rogers told the Star-Tribune state regulators are jealous of the fame he's attained. Cornicelli said Rogers' license was pulled due to his failure to publish peer-reviewed scientific research.

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