MPR News / Walking with bears

One of my biggest frustrations since moving to Duluth is that there are bears all over the place and I have yet to see one.  The block I live on has a neighborhood bear that our neighbors see all the time.  Have I seen it?  Nope.  Last year, a bear was running through downtown in the middle of the day and was cornered behind a building while I was shooting wedding pictures.  They run up the piers near the Lift Bridge toward unsuspecting fishermen and are as much a part of the environment in northeastern Minnesota as snow, deer and Lake Superior.

So when I heard there was an assignment involving bears, I jumped at the chance.  Lynn Rogers is a biologist at the Wildlife Research Institute in Ely, Minn.  Some people describe him as the Jane Goodall of bears because of his research approach that involves walking up to radio-collared bears in the wild and interacting with them on a very personal basis.  They’ve put cameras in bear dens that have beamed videos of bears giving birth to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

He’s not without his critics.  The Minnesota DNR and Lynn Rogers have seemingly been at odds over a myriad of issues for years, but Rogers trudges on and continues his research.  Central to much of the criticism is Rogers’ feeding of bears by hands.  State DNR officials say that activity teaches bears that humans are a food source, which they say ultimately leads to problems.  Think of the old saying that “a fed bear is a dead bear.”

I won’t go into much details.  You can read a great story on it here.  If you want to listen to the story, click on the audio below…

While out there, I also shot some video of Lynn and Sue Mansfield interacting with June, the black bear.  You can watch that below…

And here are some pictures during a day with Lynn, Sue and June.

Wildlife Research Institute biologists Lynn Rogers (left) and Sue Mansfield (right) look at a GPS reading of where the radio-collared bears are located on Thursday, August 30, 2012 near Ely, Minn.

Pictures showing Lynn Roger’s long relationship with northern Minnesota bears and other animals adorn one of the cabinets at the Wildlife Research Institute on Thursday, August 30, 2012 near Ely, Minn.

Wildlife Research Institute biologists Lynn Rogers (left) and Sue Mansfield (right) use an antenna while trying to locate June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, in the woods on Thursday, August 30, 2012 near Ely, Minn.

Wildlife Research Institute biologists Lynn Rogers (right) and Sue Mansfield (left) hike through the woods after locating June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, in the woods near Ely, Minn.

Wildlife Research Institute biologist Lynn Rogers hikes through the woods while trying to locate June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, in the woods near Ely, Minn on Thursday, August 30, 2012.

Wildlife Research Institute biologist Lynn Rogers hikes through thick brush while trying to locate June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, in the woods near Ely, Minn.

Wildlife Research Institute biologist Lynn Rogers hand feeds June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, on Thursday, August 30th, 2012 in the woods near Ely, Minn.

Wildlife Research Institute biologist Sue Mansfield (left) works on the GPS collar attached to June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, while biologist Lynn Rogers (right) hand feeds June on Thursday, August 30, 2012 near Ely, Minn.

June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, looks around at the food being offered by Wildlife Research Institute biologists Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield (both not pictured) on Thursday, August 30, 2012 near Ely, Minn.

Wildlife Research Institute biologist Sue Mansfield (left) hand feeds June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, while fellow WRI biologist Lynn Rogers (right) records June’s heart rate Thursday, August 30, 2012 near Ely, Minn.

Wildlife Research Institute biologist Lynn Rogers hand feeds June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, on Thursday, August 30th, 2012 in the woods near Ely, Minn.

June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear, walks around the forest Thursday, August 30, 2012 in the woods near Ely, Minn.

June, a 300-plus-pound pregnant black bear is examined by Wildlife Research Institute biologists Lynn Rogers (right) and Sue Mansfield (not pictured) Thursday, August 30, 2012 in the woods near Ely, Minn.