High Arctic Grizzly Bear

Melville Island Grizzly

This is the 7th posting about Polar bears. It follows another post about Polar bears and Grizzlies found here. To see the entire story about the polar bear click on the word “polar bear” at the bottom of this entry.

Grizzly bears have been spotted in the high arctic. Melville island is 1000 km. north of the arctic circle.

EDMONTON – Charles Francis was flying across Melville Island in the High Arctic conducting a shorebird survey with two other biologists last summer (2007) when they spotted what they thought was a polar bear feeding on a muskox.

This, however, was one dirty looking bear, according to the Canadian Wildlife Service scientist.

“Initially, we thought that this might have been a hybrid like the grizzly bear- polar bear cross that had been shot in the Arctic a couple of years earlier.

“But when we got back to camp and had a good look at the pictures I had taken from the back window of the helicopter, we realized that this was a very healthy grizzly.”

Normally, grizzlies don’t stray further north than the Arctic coast of Canada and Alaska where a good part of their traditional food supply — berries, ground squirrels, and barren ground caribou — is found.

 

300px-Melville_Island_svg

source

Not only has this bear gone further north than any other grizzly is known to have gone in North America, the evidence suggests he’s been there for three years.

That’s how long it’s been since University of Alberta geographer John England spotted a grizzly on the same island. England is convinced it’s the same animal. Source.

It’s easy to picture the high arctic as a land where seals are the only potential food. However the presence of a grizzly in this polar bear territory suggests that a variety of food options are available. Maybe the polar bear has more ability to adapt than we presently imagine and is capable of a dietary substitute for seal..

And what about the poor lonely grizzly. Well, he can mate with one of the female polar bears. There should be lots of polar bears around. Their population has soared in the last half century.

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