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Surge of hybrid polar-grizzly bear sightings befuddle scientists

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Sighting a grizzly bear and a polar bear together on Arctic sea ice would be an event rare enough in and of itself. Grizzly habitat is mainland North America, hundreds of kilometers south of Canada's High Arctic. But imagine the surprise of biologists who saw a grizzly and a pizzly -- a hybrid polar-grizzly bear -- together on the ice pack?

Canadian biologists conducting a polar bear count in the Northwest Territories spotted the anomaly in even more unusual company, according to the Calgary Herald.

Jodie Pongracz shared the tale with the Herald, recounting the census she'd undertook with fellow biologist Evan Richardson and their area guide Ross Klengenberg, surveying polar bear numbers in the area from overhead, when they spotted a pair out on the sea ice.

One, at first, appeared to be a polar bear, but it wasn't the white bear that caught Pongracz's attention; it was the brown bear in tow.

Call them what you will -- pizzly bearsgrolars -- but whatever your preference, there's growing evidence that polar-grizzly hybrids are an evolutionary adaptation.

Pizzly sightings in polar bear-dense Canada have become more frequent, befuddling scientists.

Read more on hybrid bears or check out the rest of the Calgary Herald's article here.