Will grizzlies and ‘grolar bears’ reduce caribou?

Northwest Territories hunters and biologists are seeing more grizzlies and hybrids

Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) are moving northward in Canada, raising concerns about how they—and their polar bear (Ursus maritimus) hybrids—may affect caribou (Rangifer tarandus).

Local hunters and biologists say the numbers of grizzlies and so-called “grolar bears” are on the rise, prompting local predator hunts to reduce their numbers.

Steve Baryluk, regional biologist for the Beaufort Delta with the N.W.T. government, said more grizzlies are seen in the region each year. “They’re pretty adaptable to a lot of different environments where they can make do with what they are able to find there,” he told the CBC.

Nine hybrid bears have been genetically identified. Researchers are now working on Victoria Island to see what the grizzlies prey on.

“There’s concerns that they may be targeting some of the caribou species that are under Species at Risk concerns at the moment, so we want to try to get a better handle on that,” he said.

Read more from the CBC.

Header Image: A grizzly is seen after a caribou kill in the Northwest Territories in 2013. Credit: Adam Jones