It came to my attention on 3rd of July, via BBC Producer Ted Oakes and BBC Cameraman and Presenter Gordon Buchanan that the important studies of Black Bears by Dr Lynn Rogers and the Wildlife Research Institute in Ely, Minnesota was under threat.
Lynn Rogers studies were the backbone to the 2011 BBC TV series The Bear Family and Me Produced by Ted Oakes and presented by Gordon Buchanan. Ted Oakes connection to Lynn and his studies goes back further, between 1 March 2007 – 30 April 2008 Ted was on exploration in Minnesota’s Northwoods with Lynn.
Lynn has studied Black Bears for over 40 years. He has developed a bond with the Black Bear similar to the one famously formed by Dian Fossey and the Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda.
Lynn can get extremely close to the Black Bears he studies and this gives him enhanced access to these shy creatures.
Lynn introduced Gordon to several of the bears he has been studying. With Lynn’s assistance the BBC team were able to film closer to wild Black Bears than any team previously.
This enabled us, the viewers, to look closer at the lives of these gentle and often misunderstood animals.
On 28th June 2013 Lynn and the WRI received a letter from the DNR Minnesota that their research permits were to end on 31st July 2013. One aspect of concern from the DNR is the habituation of the Black Bears in the study to Humans, while I accept this can be a risk to the Black Bears and potentially to humans I respect the opinions of professionals such as Ted Oakes, who holds a PhD in Evolutionary Biology from Oxford University, and Gordon Buchanan, a respected wildlife cameraman for around 20 years, when they give personal backing to this technique.
The study group is by the nature of these animals dispersed over a wide area and Lynn and his team track them by radio collar. Collared Black Bears have until now been protected under law from hunting. That protection is under threat so even if Lynn and his team do retain their permits to study the Black Bears the study group could already have been culled.
Please, consider this case and take a look at the WRI site. There is a petition on Change.org asking the Governor, Senators and Representative of Minnesota to intervene and re-instate the research permits.
Help save this ground breaking research.