Thousands of people watched a bear named Lily give birth to a cub via a webcam set up by independent bear researcher Lynn Rogers near Ely, Minn., in 2010. The bear has thousands of likes on Facebook. But her webcam is offline following a controversy over Rogers’ methods, which include hand-feeding bears. Earlier this summer, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources sought to pull his research permit.

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Now chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall says shutting down Rogers’ work would be a “scientific tragedy” in a letter to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton.

“I have known Dr. Lynn Rogers and his work with black bears for many years. His is one of those rare long term studies where each successive year makes the whole that much more valuable,” she writes. “Like chimpanzees, bears are long lived individuals, each with his and her own personality. Long term research in which individuals are known allows one to ask questions that are not possible in short term or ecological studies.”

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The DNR says that Rogers’ work is likely habituating bears to humans and potentially making them more dangerous to the public. After Rogers sued, a court-sanctioned compromise made in July is allowing Rogers to continue monitoring 10 bears with radio collars and nonpublic cameras in two bear dens. A state administrative law judge will decide the case later this year or next.

Goodall is a member of the International Advisory Board of Rogers’ North American Bear Center.

Photo: Getty Images