When biologists Jodie Pongracz and Evan Richardson flew up to Viscount Melville Sound this spring to capture polar bears, they had expected it to be an adventure.
The bears they were looking for live in an Arctic region so remote and so far north that Inuit hunters only began harvesting them in the 1970s. The number of animals living there is also small compared to what is found in most other polar bear regions of the Arctic.
That’s why they, and Ross Klengenberg, their Inuit field assistant, did a double-take when they saw a grizzly bear in the company of what they thought was a polar bear on the sea ice, hundreds of kilometres north of where grizzlies are normally found on the mainland.
What surprised them even more is that the bear turned out to be a hybrid, a cross between a polar bear and a grizzly.