April Fool! No, polar bears have not been spotted in Scotland

Adam Boult
A polar bear in Manitoba, Canada - Rex Features

This morning, the Daily Telegraph carried the sobering news that the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)  had discovered a polar bear living on an island in the Outer Hebrides - suggested to be a sign that animals are fleeing the melting Arctic ice cap.

In case you hadn't twigged already, the story was an April Fool - there are, as far as we are aware, no polar bears living wild on any of the British Isles, which will come as a disappointment for anyone hoping to make a trip up to see the Hebridean Ursus maritimus:

 Some credulous readers might have been twigged when they reached this rather colourful paragraph:

It’s not inconceivable, say scientists, that as the island becomes overcrowded, the bears could one day head south to Glasgow. Polar bears, the most carnivorous members of the bear family, would likely be able to survive by scavenging in the city’s bins for discarded haggis, kebabs and other meat products.

However, not everything included in the story was a fabrication. It is true that, by 2050, polar bear numbers are expected to decline by as much as 30 per cent due to the rapid loss of sea ice unless climate change is halted. 

And it’s not just polar bears which are vulnerable: WWF’s Living Planet report 2016, found nearly one in six species are at risk of extinction from climate change.

To help fund projects that protect polar bears and their habitat and reduce the impacts of climate change the public can find out how to adopt a polar bear with WWF at  https://www.wwf.org.uk/updates/polar-bear-found-in-scotland

For more April Fool's mischief, head over to our round-up of dozens of fake news stories, including the Mail's report that Prince Harry had secretly got married in Las Vegas, and the startling revelation from the Guardian that George Osborne is to launch his own 'Georgio' line of menswear.

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