Toronto A DNA test has confirmed what zoologists, hunters and aboriginal trackers in the far northern reaches of Canada have dreamed of for years: the first documented case of a grizzly-polar bear in the wild.
Roger Kuptana, an Inuit tracker from the Northwest Territories, suspected the American hunter he was guiding had shot a hybrid bear after noticing its white fur was spotted brown and it had the long claws and slightly humped back of a grizzly.
Territorial officials seized the bear's body and a DNA test from Wildlife Genetics International, a lab in British Columbia, confirmed the hybrid was born of a polar bear mother and grizzly father.
"It's something we've all known was theoretically possible because their habitats overlap a little bit and their breeding seasons overlap a little bit," said Ian Stirling, a biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service in Edmonton, Alberta. "It's the first time it's known to have happened in the wild."