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DNA Testing: Polar Bear ‘Hybrid’ Or Blonde Grizzly?

Susan Crockford, Polar Bear Science

That putative polar bear hybrid shot in Arviat last week has been sent for DNA testing.

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Just out from NunatsiaqOnline (24 May 2016): Nunavut biologist sends possible “grolar” bear DNA for analysis: Unusual bear killed in Arviat could just be a blonde grizzly bear

Additional details confirm the animal shot was a female, which could account for the fact it was described as “small”. The Nunavut biologist who sent in the sample for testing warned it could also be a blonde grizzly, as I pointed out last week.

UPDATE 24 May 2016: Comments added below from a Toronto Star news report below on the hybrid identity of this animal.

This NunatsiaqOnline article states:

But while the bear looks to be a hybrid of a grizzly and polar bear, Nunavut’s carnivore biologist said May 19 that it’s up to DNA tests to confirm or deny that.

In grizzly bears, you can get fur colour ranging from brown to blond to nearly black,” said Malik Awan from Igloolik.

The Government of Nunavut sent samples May 18 to a lab in British Columbia, Awan said.

“We’re trying to process it quickly so we can share that information with the public,” he said.

Nunavut hunters have seen an increase in grizzly bears since at least the 1990s, particularly in the coastal mainland, including areas around Arviat, the biologist said.

“We have reports from hunters on occasion that grizzly bears venture faon to sea ice in the spring to scavenge from polar bear kills or hunt newborn seals,” Awan said.”
[my bold]

Read the rest here.

And as I reiterated in my post yesterday (Five facts that challenge polar bear hybridization nonsense), these grizzlies seen around coastal areas of western Hudson Bay (including Arviat and Churchill), had to have come from the north because there are no grizzlies to the south (see map below, data behind it in yesterday’s post).

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