Dr Lynn Rogers and his team at the North American Bear Center, Ely, MN is working to win protection for radio-collared bears wearing bright ribbons in Minnesota. They need protection for this September, when the hunting season starts.
Radio-collared research bears are still considered to be fair game for hunters in Minnesota. Current law makes it illegal to shoot a radio-collared bear only if it is accompanied by a researcher who identifies the bear as a research bear. It is not practical to provide this cover 24 hours while allowing the bears to go about their normal lives. The Minnesota Bear Guides Association wants research bears to be fitted with brightly colored ear tags. Ear tags cannot be placed without trapping, tranquilizing, and destroying the trust necessary for research and risking injury from trapping and death from tranquilizing. The researchers at Ely prefer durable, brightly colored, day-glow ribbons of duct tape attached to the collar during the hunting season. These make the bears very visible.
Simply asking hunters not to shoot radio-collared bears has not worked. For 10 years, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has asked hunters not to shoot radio-collared bears but assured them that shooting the bears is legal and, if they do shoot one, they should turn in the radio-collar. It hasn%u2019t worked. This past fall, state bear biologist Dr. David Garshelis said he lost 9 (out of 34) radio-collared bears. The Bear Centre at Ely lost 2 (of 12). The portion of radio-collared bears killed is not much different from the portion of bears killed in the overall population.
Working with biologist Lynn Rogers, Ph.D., for over 40 years, the Wildlife Research Institute (WRI) is conducting the longest and most detailed black bear study and the largest educational outreach program ever done for black bears. Research focuses on improving coexistence between people and bears in an increasingly urbanized environment. WRI provides the information to over a hundred million people each year through TV, radio, books, magazines, museum exhibits, black bear courses, and the Internet. The biggest problems black bears face are misconceptions that lead people to kill bears rather than coexist with them. People are the number one cause of death for black bears, and people are moving into bear habitat like never before. Their attitudes will determine the fates of the bears that live around them. The bears have provided invaluable research data into the habits and activities of black bears. The Ely bears are studied in at least 459 schools, using lesson plans, and additional resources available online at bear.org. The Den-Cams are watched in 50 states of the US and 54 countries across the world. Films showing Lynn Rogers and his work have reached out to huge audiences, winning the hearts and minds of millions.
Please support a debate on protection legislature. Representative Phyllis Kahn is willing to author a bill in the house. I ask you to show that you want that protection.
To find out more about black bears and WRI visit www.bear.org.
We the undersigned request that you support legislation to protect radio-collared bears wearing bright ribbons in Minnesota.
These bears are helping to provide the longest and most detailed black bear study and the largest educational outreach program ever done for black bears. Research focuses on improving coexistence between people and bears in an increasingly urbanized environment. The biggest problems black bears face are misconceptions that lead people to kill bears rather than coexist with them. People are the number one cause of death for black bears, and people are moving into bear habitat like never before.
Dr Lynn Rogers and the Wildlife Research Institute (WRI) have collared the bears using trust, not trapping, and use the information provided to study bear behavior and ecology - there is little to be learned about that from a dead bear. A collar cannot just be removed from a dead bear and put on another bear. It invalidates the research. Short-term data are not pertinent in studies that require long-term data, and replacing a bear that has learned to accept the researchers takes years.
Why deer hunters are asked to see a 3-inch antler before they shoot, but it is too much to ask hunters to spare bears with an array of gawdy ribbons?
There is huge support in favor of protection amongst Ely residents (the area where the radio-collared bears live). The Ely City Council had voted unanimously in favor of protection, and 68 out of 70 Ely business owners had signed a petition for protection. The support extends to hundreds of schools across the USA, where the bears are used in classroom studies, and millions of black-bear fans throughout the world, who follow the research on-line.
Thank you very much for taking the time to read this letter and considering our request. I hope you decide to act in favor of this research and the bears that are vital to it.