Zoologist: alleged grizzly-polar hybrid killed not a ‘sign of climate change’

Facebook - IshalookAn Inuit hunter from Arviat, Canada, shot a blonde polar bear and it’s causing quite a stir this week. Not because the hunter, Didji Ishalook, killed the animal for sustenance, but rather the various news outlets alleging this was a grizzly-polar bear hybrid, a clear sign of global warming. While DNA evidence was only recently sent out to make a ‘hybrid’ determination, that didn’t stop The Washington Post from running a misleading story that global warming was forcing grizzlies to hook up with polar bears. The DNA results are still being processed.

Ishalook, who hunts mainly in Canada’s Nunavut territory, brought the blonde bear to people’s attention when he shared his kill photos on social media May 15, writing beneath it: ” “Female grizzly/polar bear. Got my first bear woohoo!!” Inuits hunt bears for food and use their skin for clothing.

The media machine took the normally common story of Inuits hunting and built another rickety polar bear story about grizzlies invading the Arctic and raping the natural world, namely the female polar bear population, due to climate change. That was the final straw for zoologist Dr. Susan Crocker, who devoted three postings on her Polar Bear Science website trying to insert the facts into the global warming hybrid hysteria.

Andrew Derocher, a professor of biological studies at the University of Alberta, chimed in and made the highly unscientific statement that grizzlies are moving further north because the Arctic is getting warmer, contracting the polar bear’s territory and forcing the couplings of these two distinct ursids. “I hate to say it, but from a genetic perspective, it’s quite likely grizzly bears will eat polar bears up, genetically,” he told the Washington Post.

Hardly. Rather than wait for the DNA to come back, the global warming alarmists went into full-scale hysteria mode, forcing Dr. Crocker to devote three extensive posts on this so-called ‘grolar’ story. Calling these silly hybridization stories inevitable, Crocker said it would eventually lead to the “global warming blame game.” And it did. She even wrote up five facts that challenge the hybridization nonsense.

She points out that the polar bear territory is not contracting, despite the nonsensical statements, as a result of sea ice changes since 1950. The “regions where hybridization has been documented (Doup√© et al. 2007) are still polar bear territory, as is the region where the latest putative hybrid was shot (still not confirmed by DNA).” Polar bear populations, which are adjacent to grizzly populations in Canada, have remained stable and are increasing.

Grizzlies invading the West Hudson Bay coast are moving south, not north, the exact opposite of what Derocher told the Post. She notes that if a “grizzly male met a polar bear female along western Hudson Bay (which is the most recent putative hybridization event took place and where more grizzlies have been seen in recent years), it could only have come from the north.”

Population tables in the SARA Registry about grizzlies shows “few” grizzlies populations in Manitoba (south of Nunavut), and shows no grizzlies in the provinces of Ontario or Quebec. She points out: “How can grizzlies being moving north into Nunavut and Churchill, due to climate change or anything else…if there are no grizzlies to the south?”

Hybrids of grizzlies and polar bears are also extremely rare. So why did Derocher tell the Post, “What we’re starting to see in the Canadian Arctic is three-fourth grizzlies.” Crocker writes that only one hybrid has been identified since 2010. The cub was the result of a hybrid mother and a grizzly father, but “hardly represents an epidemic of back-crossed hybrids.” Prior to that, there was a confirmed hybrid in 2006. That makes a whopping total of two hybrids in 30 years.

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