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Archive for Friday, May 12, 2006

First documented hybrid bear found in wild

May 12, 2006

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— 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."

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