There’s a new bear in town, and how it will deal with the other bear species is something conservationists are keeping an eye on. University of Saskatchewan researchers have recorded grizzly bears in Wapusk National Park in northern Manitoba where normally polar bears and black bears roam, but until recently, grizzly bears hadn’t been spotted.
Conservation scientist Douglas Clark expects the grizzlies will be the greatest beneficiary of these changes. They have been known to eat black bears and polar bears and to mate with polar bears, but it could also be the other way around.
He explains that established black bear populations with lots of big males would not be too friendly to a young grizzly. Clark expects the climate change is part of the reason for the grizzly bears expanding their territory, but it would be just part of the answer.
He adds that their research has been non-invasive, using remote cameras, and that’s a direction that northerners wanted to see, as do scientists. Between 2011 and 2017, the cameras recorded 401 bear visits – 25 by black bears, 10 by grizzlies and 366 by polar bears.
The discovery poses an interesting question for conservationists: How will interspecies interactions affect bear conservation and management? In other words, which species would take precedence for protection? Clark says the research raises more questions than answers.