A polar bear in Southeast Greenland. | Image: Thomas W Johansen NASA

Researchers have identified a special group of polar bears described in a paper published today in the journal Science. The bears might have found a unique sort of refuge from the effects of climate change in Southeast Greenland, the authors write, where their group has become genetically distinct from other polar bears. Scientists are now pushing to recognize the bears as their own unique “subpopulation,” a move that could help keep them protected from potential threats like hunting and habitat loss.

Over the past decade, the researchers surveyed polar bears across 1,800 miles of Greenland’s eastern coastline in an effort to better understand the animals’ health and movements. Although that’s a big range, they thought they were dealing…

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