Northern hunters, scientists and people with vivid imaginations have discussed the possibility of a cross-bread Polar Bear and Grizzly Bear for years.
But Roger Kuptana, an Inuvialuit guide from Sachs Harbor, Northwest Territories, was the first to suspect it had actually happened when he proposed that a strange-looking bear shot last month by American sports hunter Jim Martell, might actually be half polar bear, half grizzly.
Territorial officials seized the creature after noticing it had white fur that was scattered with brown patches and that it had the long claws and humped back of a grizzly. Now a DNA test has confirmed that it is indeed a hybrid — possibly the first documented in the wild.
"We've known it's possible, but actually most of us never thought it would happen," said Ian Stirling, a polar bear biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service in
Polar bears and grizzlies have been successfully paired in zoos before —
Breeding seasons for the two species overlap, though polar bear gets started slightly earlier.
Hunter Jim Martell, in white, with unidentified men and the hybrid bear he shot in April 2006 on
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