Moving Ahead - UPDATE January 1, 2016

Lily and Eli nose to nose - April 11, 2013Lily and Eli nose to nose - April 11, 2013With the start Lily Fans and other donors gave us in 2015, 2016 will shine as a year of progress in black bear science and education.

We have already mentioned the big changes in progress to upgrade the North American Bear Center and give visitors educational experiences more like visitors rave about in the new Northwoods Ecology Hall.

Lily Fans are working with collaborating professors and graduate students to organize our data for publication. As I write this, a graduate student is quietly crunching data here at the WRI. He came in the door this morning raving ecstatically about the high quality help he was getting from Lily Fan volunteers expert in data organization.

At the Bear Center, the search is on for 6 interns (expanded from last year’s 4) to help educate visitors. Director of Education Judy Thon (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is registering participants for her Bear Educator class this spring. Bear Educators will help care for our 4 bears and share their knowledge with visitors.

We always have an eye toward sustainability considering my age (76). We are exploring ways to increase participation of federal employees as donors to the North American Bear Center through the Combined Federal Campaign. We would also like to encourage more people to include the North American Bear Center in their wills.

Lily with Ellie and Eli - 2013The most effective educational tool we have ever found was the Den Cams which continue to be of high public interest. Five days ago (on December 27, 2015), the Minneapolis Star Tribune mentioned them as a 2015 highlight, saying, "In other Minnesota outdoors news this year, independent bear researcher Lynn Rogers of Ely won back his right to place web cameras in bear dens." Lily Fans will remember how the DNR prohibited us from using them, offering no credible reason for the prohibition. Following up on the Court of Appeals decision favoring Den Cams, I submitted a Den Cam Permit Application to the DNR on November 6, 2015 but have not heard anything back. My usual mode of operation in the face of opposition is to move ahead doing something good. One thought with the Den Cams is that my work would speak for itself and there would be no need to counter the DNR’s public campaign to discredit my work and hamper the North American Bear Center. Without the Den Cams, the DNR’s accusations stand unchallenged. So, as part of the Bear Center’s sustainability, there is a need to expose dishonesties of the DNR case as a step in restoring the public credibility upon which our educational efforts are based:

1. While the DNR was telling the public that I do not publish, it was working behind the scenes to prevent me from publishing. The DNR illegally withheld from the court all paperwork that would expose what it was doing. When the court became aware, it obtained the papers and sanctioned the DNR.

2. While telling the public that its actions against me would not impact the North American Bear Center, the DNR illegally prevented the Bear Center from acquiring an ideal bear that we needed and that was in need of a home. The Attorney General informed the DNR in writing that its actions preventing this were illegal.

3. While telling the public that we train bears to go up to people for food, the DNR failed to produce a single witness to back that up.

4. To create its case against me, the DNR altered evidence, misdated pictures, and used videos and pictures that had nothing to do with my research. For example, the DNR used a picture of a captive-raised bear snuggled up to its owner in a pen in Wisconsin as an example of my wild research around Ely.

5. To further create a case against my research, the DNR filed bear complaints in people’s names without their knowledge or words. Representative David Dill, before he died, exposed this reprehensible DNR effort against me and got it stopped. The DNR agreed to remove falsified complaints from its files but presented them nevertheless in the hearing. The judge became aware of this. She mentioned DNR “inaccuracies” in her decision, and stated that the DNR had no true evidence to show that public safety was a greater or lesser issue in our study area than anywhere else.

6. As the record shows, Commissioner Tom Landwehr decided to pull my permit in early 2011 when he became angry about letters requesting protection for radio-collared bears. His staff told him the DNR had no cause to pull my permit. The Commissioner then spent over $500,000 of taxpayer money to create a “cause.” To do that, he worked with three officials who have records of failed, dishonest, and/or illegal efforts to derail my research and education.

Court records show the above to be true. On November 6, 2015, I asked the DNR to grant the Den Cam Permit, get behind it, and show the world what we can accomplish together. I realize that could be embarrassing to the DNR after its efforts to discredit me and my research these last several years. I would prefer to quietly do Den Cam research and education and let that work speak for me instead of exposing the DNR’s dishonest and illegal practices. Although the judge ruled that the DNR has the authority to give or rescind research permits. However, there is no cause to prohibit Den Cam research and education that is supported by the Court of Appeals.

Thank you for all you do.

Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center