Temporary Restraining Order – UPDATE July 23, 2013

20130722 Capital 1We had hoped the meeting with the governor and commissioner would be fruitful.  However, at their press conference afterwards, they made it clear there would be no reprieve on removing the radio-collars by July 31st. 

As a result, by the time we went through a hearing of the issues, we likely wouldn’t see the study bears again to re-collar them if we won the hearing.  Bears haven’t been coming to feeding stations with all the good food in the woods.  When that food wanes during hunting season, they might go to hunters’ baits the same as other bears do.  Without radio-collars, June, Lily, Faith, Juliet, and the others could be shot unknowingly by hunters who would spare radio-collared bears.  We couldn’t stand by and let that travesty play out.  We need an injunction and a thorough, fair investigation. 

Governor Dayton speaks to reportersGovernor Dayton speaks to reportersWe know what investigators would find.  We know the allegations.  We know the complete stories behind them.  We know the public safety risk here is no greater than with household chores or driving down the street.  No radio-collared bear has ever attacked anyone in our 4 decades of study and the half-century of people feeding bears in this community. 

Yesterday, reporters told us some of the allegations the DNR was giving to newspapers.  For us, it will be a new form of public education as we and attorneys reveal the truth behind the harmless incidents from nearly a decade ago that are being hyped to scare the public into believing there is a public safety crisis.  The bigger the hype, the more interest there will be in the truth.      

20130722 Capital 2At 74, we have no choice.  It’s too late to start over.  We are at the culmination of Lynn’s research career.  We are learning the behaviors of supplementally fed bears in the best food year we have seen in nearly two decades.  It’s the first food year like this one we’ve ever been able to study in detail.  We have radio-collars on a nice core sample of bears with adjacent territories and known kinship.  No one has ever had a situation like this.  We are comparing behaviors against what we have seen in years with less food.  The lack of sightings is amazing to everyone who feeds bears around here.

We are getting more data than ever.  We remember the old days of renting an airplane to get one location per bear per week—all we could afford.  Then, in a study area with more roads, we drove up to a hundred miles a day to get one location per bear per day.  Now, precise GPS locations are sent to Google Earth on our computers about every 10 minutes for more data in one year than we got the whole time before GPS.

Lynn and Sue leave Capital BuildingLynn and Sue leave Capital BuildingIt’s the wrong time to quit—especially at the whim of officials who have little idea what we are learning, who have scarcely read what we have sent them, who have never spent time with us in the field, and who don’t really seem that interested.

Ely Mayor Ross Peterson was great with his testimony of support for our research.  

Our request for a temporary restraining order tells more at http://www.bearstudy.org/website/research/rogers-v-mn-dnr.html

20130722 Capital 3Today was a great day.  Top scientists flew in from New Mexico to meet with us and Dr. Roger Powell—a home range analysis expert.  All will be co-authors on papers about the many topics that can be written using our unique combination of GPS data and direct observation.  Long-time bear researcher Roger Powell has written more than anyone we know on home range.  We are asking him to be the senior author on these papers while we work to make the Hope Learning Center and the Northwoods Ecology Exhibit the best they can be.

With all the good that is going on, we hate to be distracted by legal proceedings, but we have no choice.    

We thank you all for your support and for all you do.  We plan to win this and continue.  There is much to do.

—Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield, Biologists, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

All photos taken July 22, 2013 at the MN State Capital Building.