A scientist from Saskatchewan tells the story of three bears, which has a very different ending from the story.
Doug Clark of the University of Saskatchewan says he has the first recorded evidence of black and polar bears using the same field.
"From a scientific point of view, it has never been documented anywhere," said Clark, whose article was published in the journal Arctic Science.
Clark and his colleagues exploited the research camps of the Wapusk National Park in northern Manitoba, along Hudson Bay, in 2011, to study the interactions between bear and man. But something unusual appeared in their moving cameras.
Between 2011 and 2017, the team documented 401 visits from three Canadian bears.
Most visits – 366 – were from polar bears. But 25 were from black bears and 10 were from grizzlies.
This is not just a science captured by what happens forever, Clark said. Researchers dealt with that piece of land from the 1960s, without the usual observation of the three species that mix regularly, although Clark remembers seeing a grizzly in the area at the end of the 90s.
"It was no wonder at that moment," he said. "But something has definitely changed in that part of the world, and now they are accustomed.
We gathered them every year in our rooms. There are some pretty strong indications, at least one [grizzly] the bear does not go too far.
Scientists have guessed that the three species could have used the same habitat in Delta Beaufort in the upper corner of the Northwest Territories. But it has never been confirmed, despite the presence of polar grizzlies.
A new bear on the block
In Wapusk, it seems grizzlies are the new bear in the block.
Bear bears and polar bears have long used the area. The boreal forest – a good habitat of the black-beard – goes near the shore in many places, and the coast offers polar bears access to the ice, where they can hunt seals.
But grizzlies are currently spreading, probably from Thelon Game Sanctuary Northeast of Great Slave Lake, local elders say. Clark said it's likely to happen what's happening in the park.
"[Grizzlies] have undergone a very significant expansion in the last decades. They have extended their range to the Hudson Bay coast and down in Manitoba and eventually even in Ontario. "
Aries has grown over the past decades, and Clark suggests encouraging young grizzlies seeking their lawn to sit.
No one really knows. Clark said climate change, which affects both sea ice and locally-grown plant change, is probably a factor.
"The place warms like the madman."
There is still no evidence of the three bear species that come in contact with each other. But the cameras recorded a black bear and a polar bear route within three hours of each other.
"Undoubtedly, they met each other in the area and probably had some idea of what was going on," Clark said.
"How it interacts is a really big question. There are all sorts of things that could go on."
Also, the likely result of the new mix is unknown.
"It could go all sorts of ways," said Clark, who points out that grizzly and polar bears have coexisted in the past for the mutual benefit of both.
The moral of history is that people will have to consider how – and for the benefit of which – they will manage the wild populations that change as habitats change.
"The great and big question is what will people do about it? Is it a wonderful thing, a novel, or is it a threat that violates polar bears?
"This forces us to hardly forget our presumptions about conservation."