Grizzlies Encroaching on Polar Bear Territorry in Manitoba
25.02.2010 - Flora & Fauna, Arctic
Biologists from the American Museum of Natural History and City College of the City University of New York (CUNY) have found that grizzly bears are becoming increasingly present in what has traditionally polar bear habitat in the Canadian province of Manitoba. Preliminary data was recently published in Canadian Field Naturalist and shows that sightings of grizzlies in Canada's Wapusk National Park are recent and increasingly frequent.
After a first sighting in August 2008, the scientists looked through records to get a better picture of the bear population in the park. Not finding any evidence of grizzly presence before 1996, the team came across nine conformed sightings between 1996 and 2008, and three additional observations in the summer of 2009.
The increasing number of grizzlies in the area can have a negative impact on polar bears, as grizzlies are likely to hibernate in polar bear maternity denning habitat. And since both species come out of hibernation around the same time, grizzlies might attack and kill polar cubs.
Before this study’s findings came out, researchers believed that Hudson Bay was the northernmost limit for resources for potentially migrating grizzly bears. But because of their flexible diet, some of them have been able to pass the barrier and reach the abundant resources of Canada's Wapusk National Park. The question now is to how to manage the newly arrived species as they appear as possible competitors to and predators of polar bears in the area.