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Well-known research bear killed by hunter near Ely

A well-known research bear was shot and killed by a hunter near Ely on Friday, the North American Bear Center reported. Dot, who was 13, was wearing a radio collar bedecked with colorful ribbons when she was shot, bear researchers Lynn Rogers and...

A well-known research bear was shot and killed by a hunter near Ely on Friday, the North American Bear Center reported.

Dot, who was 13, was wearing a radio collar bedecked with colorful ribbons when she was shot, bear researchers Lynn Rogers and Sue Mansfield reported online in their daily update for the Bear Center and associated Wildlife Research Institute. The

researchers were feeling "deep grief" about the news.

"Dot was radio-tracked longer than any other bear in the study, beginning with her life in the den with her radio-collared mother Blackheart," they wrote. "Dot had a great, gentle personality and was a favorite of many who got to see her in the course of her 13 years."

Researchers say Dot was the second of the center's radio-collared bears to be shot during the current Minnesota bear season, which opened Sept. 1; a bear named Aster apparently was shot and wounded on Sept. 5.

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In an interview, Rogers said Aster had a "floppy front leg" but had no broken bones. "Unless there's nerve damage I think she will definitely recover," he said.

Dot had been wearing a radio collar of her own since she was 1½, Rogers said.

It is legal in Minnesota to shoot a radio-collared bear, though in recent years the Department of Natural Resources has urged hunters to refrain from doing so.

"Hunters ... should be especially vigilant for these valuable research bears," DNR bear research biologist Dave Garshelis said in a news release before the season. "These animals provide long-term data on reproduction and habitat use that is invaluable for bear management across the state. ... Researchers have invested an enormous amount of time and expense in these individuals."

However, the DNR reported that "officials recognize that a hunter may not be able to see a radio collar or ear tags in some situations. For this reason, taking a bear with a radio collar is legal unless the bear is accompanied by a researcher who has identified the bear to the hunter as a research animal."

In the case of Dot, Rogers and Mansfield reported online that late Friday afternoon, "her GPS locations showed her signal moved quickly from the forest to the town of Ely. We drove to Ely and located the radio-collar in the conservation officer's truck awaiting delivery to the DNR office in Tower and eventual return to us."

Rogers was told that Dot was killed "in a hunting situation," the researchers reported.

At least nine of Rogers' radio-collared bears have been killed by hunters over the years, including two in 2010.

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Earlier this year, the DNR revoked Rogers' permits, ordering him and Mansfield to stop placing radio collars on bears and to stop putting cameras in bear dens. But after an appeal to an administrative law judge, a temporary compromise was reached under which the researchers could continue to have collars on up to 10 bears.

With Dot's death, the bear center now has nine collared bears including gimpy-legged Aster, Rogers said.

A further hearing on the matter is scheduled for Feb. 17, Rogers said.

Related Topics: HUNTING
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