Friday, May 12, 2006

A bad joke
This reads like a sick good-news-bad-news joke.
A DNA test has confirmed what zoologists, big-game hunters and aboriginal trackers in the far northern reaches of Canada have imagined for years: the first documented case of a hybrid grizzly-polar bear in the wild.

Roger Kuptana, an Inuit tracker from the Northwest Territories, suspected the American hunter he was guiding had shot a hybrid bear last month after noticing its white fur had brown patches and it had the long claws and slightly humped back of a grizzly.

The good news is that a unique bear hybrid had been discovered in Canada. The bad news is that it was discovered by a trophy hunter.

Polar bears and grizzlies are essentially different breeds of the same species, so a hybrid isn't a genetic problem. What mainly separates them is that they have completely different ranges and slightly different breeding seasons. David Paetkau, a geneticist quoted in the article, suggests the hybrid might be a sign that the bears are moving to new, overlapping ranges in response to global warming climate change.

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