Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 9th, 2006
Late in April 2006, American hunter Jim Martell, shown here with his prize trophy, went to Canada’s far north, paying $58,570 to hunt polar bears. Now it turns out, he may have killed the first grizzly-polar bear cross ever found in the wild. The two species mate at different times of the year and inhabit vastly different regions, hence cross-breeding is a rarity.
The animal he killed is being described by local Alaskan-Canadian media as a “pizzly,” a “grolar bear” or a “polargrizz.” Media reports described it as “looking” like an animal that could be the byproduct of a grizzly mating with a polar bear. Geneticists have documented that grizzly bears ventured north some 250,000 years ago to hunt seals and that their fur turned white over time. Thus, the polar bear was born.
But look at the above trophy photograph of the bear that Martell killed. Perhaps it was merely a dirty polar bear, after all?
A laboratory in western Canada will examine a sample of the bear’s DNA, and declare what the animal is. Martell is deeply interested in those results. His hunting license only allowed him to shoot polar bears, so he may be charged with shooting the wrong animal if this animal is found to not be a Ursus maritimus, according to the AFP news service.
DNA test results for this bear shot by Jim Martell on April 16 near Nelson Head on southern Banks Island, NWT, have concluded that the bear shot was indeed a rare hybrid, the first recorded polar-grizzly bear hybrid found in the wild.
The hide will be returned to Martell, who is already back in NWT on a grizzly hunt.