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Forecasts that the melting of polar ice would bring the extinction of polar bears have taken an unexpected turn. Overall polar bear numbers may have increased in the past decade.
Researchers suggest several reasons for this. One is that thinner, annual sea ice (as opposed to thicker, permanent ice sheets) promotes a richer ecosystem, from plankton all the way up the food chain. But that benefit is probably temporary, so polar bears aren’t out of the woods yet.
In fact, they may be moving into the woods. Researchers report increasing numbers of “pizzlies” and “grolar bears”—polar-grizzly hybrids—in the southernmost polar bear ranges. Since all bear species descended from the same pair on Noah’s Ark, it stands to reason that polar bears could still hybridize with grizzlies.
God called on animals to spread out and fill niches all over the world (Genesis 8:17), and he equipped them to do so. Although we desire to save certain species from extinction, species have never been fixed, and hybridizing related species seems to be one way they continue to vary and adapt.
As stewards of God’s creation, we would be wrong to take the polar bears’ plight lightly. Yet it is encouraging to know that God created the bear kind to be resilient, another sign of their effective design.
This article was taken from Answers magazine, May–June, 2018, 31.