ELY, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota researcher has surprised his followers and officials alike by removing radio collars from his research bears in the Ely area.

Lynn Rogers tells reporters it was a difficult decision. He blames the Department of Natural Resources for forcing them into a corner. He says the DNR gutted their program by restricting the number of radio collars and the kind of data they could collect to "to the point that it was hardly scientifically viable."

Rogers claims his collared bears also became targets for hunters. He says removing the collars now allows fur to grow back on their necks before hunting season.

DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen says Rogers' move is a mystery. He says Rogers was allowed leaves the collars on pending a final decision on his permit.