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Grizzly-Polar Bear Hybrid Might Have Been Shot In Nunavut

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Grizzly bears and their polar counterparts might be getting down and dirty up north, and climate change could be their matchmaker.

Experts say sightings of a hybrid bear, known as a grolar or pizzly, are becoming more common as Arctic temperatures rise, according to The Guardian. Grizzly bears are moving up north while polar bears are spending more time on land.

"The combination of warmer temperatures and vegetation growth means there is more overlap between the species and I’d expect that overlap to increase," Chris Servheen, a bear expert at the University of Montana, told the paper.

'Big claws like a grizzly'

Last week, CBC News reported on a 25-year-old hunter in Nunavut who shot a bear he says was a "grizzly half-breed."

"It looks like a polar bear's got brown paws and big claws like a grizzly. And the shape of a grizzly head," said Didji Ishalook.

A scientist with Environment Canada agrees with Ishalook. Ian Stirling told the Toronto Star he is "99 per cent sure" the animal was a hybrid bear.

Not just a fling

The expert told the paper that the bears have to spend a few days together for the mating process to work.

"The fact that a grizzly and polar bear are mating tells you that they’re hanging out," he said. "This isn’t just a casual one-night stand kind of thing."

The first confirmed hybrid bear was killed in 2006 by American hunter Jim Martell, who paid $45,000 for a licence to hunt a polar bear, according to The Globe and Mail.

polar grizzly hybrid
Jim Martell stands next to a mount of a polar bear-grizzly bear hybrid that sits in the game room at his home in Glenns Ferry Idaho on Jan. 12, 2007. (Photo: Troy Maben/The Associated Press)

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