Warming Arctic brings invasion of southern species, new diseases

Warming Arctic brings invasion of southern species
by Ed Struzik

Grizzly bears mating with polar bears and exotic diseases making their way into once-isolated
polar realms are just two of the effects of soaring Arctic temperatures

This bear’s body, neck and face suggest it may be a grizzly-polar bear hybrid, or ‘grolar’, living in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska. Photograph: Steven Kazlowski/Corbis

Scientist John England was flying in the High Arctic last summer when he spotted something large moving on a tiny island in the Beaufort Sea, not far from the Alaska-Yukon border. When he and the helicopter pilot moved in to get a closer look, they were astounded to see a grizzly bear prowling the shoreline.

What this brown bear was doing in the kingdom of its white cousin is not entirely clear. But a week later when I joined England in the field, we found the tracks of the animal leading to a partially excavated den. It was obvious that the bear had no intention of going back to the mainland.

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