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Jason, Internet-famous cub near Ely, dies

The bear cub named Jason died at 4:03 p.m. Tuesday, said Lynn Rogers, who has been researching bears for 42 years. (Photo courtesy Lynn Rogers0

Lynn Rogers doesn't know why the bear cub named Jason died, and he fears he may never find out.

The cub, born over the winter to Internet sensation Lily in a den somewhere near Ely, died at 4:03 p.m. Tuesday, said Rogers, who has been researching bears for 42 years.

But his plans to conduct a necropsy on Wednesday were interrupted when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confiscated the carcass, Rogers said.

How come?

"You've got me," Rogers said. "I can guess a couple of things. Ask them."

Chris Niskanen, communications director for the DNR, said it was a matter of following the rules.

Rogers lacks the salvage and collection permit that would allow him to keep a dead animal, Niskanen said.

"We're not treating Lynn Rogers any differently than anyone else who had a dead animal on his hands," Niskanen said. "It's standard operating procedure."

The DNR doesn't bear any ill will toward Rogers or his research, and in fact issues him his research permit, Niskanen said. But the bears don't belong to him.

"Lynn Rogers does not own these bears," Niskanen said. "Those bears are public property" and the DNR is responsible for that property.

Niskanen said the DNR would conduct its own necropsy to determine the cause of death, and that the carcass then could be returned to Rogers if he wants it, and if he obtains a salvage permit.

The cub was one of two new cubs born to Lily over the winter in an Ely-area den where Rogers had again placed a video camera that sent images of the bears to computers worldwide.

The other new cub, Faith, appears in fine condition, as does Lily's 1-year-old cub, Hope, who spent a second winter with its mother.

Faith appears to be taking advantage of the mother's extra nipple, Rogers said. He noticed a difference in Lily's behavior, as well, on Wednesday. "I think Lily was unusually protective of Faith."

The bears' many fans on Facebook mourned Jason on Wednesday, and some debated whether the researchers should have done more to save the cub.

"I can only imagine how incredibly difficult it must have been for Dr. Rogers and Sue (Mansfield, a fellow researcher) and for everyone else there," wrote Jacqui Ayala of Brockton, Mass. "I strongly believe that the right thing was done as sad and difficult as it was."

"People in general have become so removed from nature that they don't seem to realize that this happens every day. We are just not there to see it," wrote Lisa Chance of Coon Rapids, Minn. "They should appreciate the fact that the researchers have allowed us to view their work, and experience the good and the bad."

Rogers said it was difficult to watch the cub in its struggle for life. But his research permit wouldn't allow him to take the cub in to see if it could be rehabilitated.

"It doesn't affect the data; you record what you see," Rogers said. "You see the little guy struggling and he dies, and you think: There's nothing we could do or should do. Some cubs die, and we have to accept it and see what we can learn from it."

Rogers said it's unclear why Jason fell behind Faith in size and weight while they appeared to start out at the same size. He said it may be because Lily didn't have enough milk for two new cubs and Hope, who is still nursing.

Tags: news, animals, outdoors, dnr, minnesota, ely