The Spirit Bear aka Kermode Bear aka Ghost Bear
The Spirit Bear aka Ghost Bear: The Other White Bear
Yes, there is another white bear. It's not a polar bear but in fact it is a rare subspecies of the Black Bear.
The beautiful Spirit Bear aka Ghost Bear was named after Frank Kermode the former director of the Royal B.C. Museum, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.
Read on to discover the myth and the mystery behind these beautiful white bears. You'll find photos, facts, videos and informational links and information on the efforts being made to save these magnificent bears.
Scientific classification of the Kermode Bear
Species: U. americanus
Subspecies: U. a. kermodei
Ursus americanus kermodei
Hornaday, 1905From Wikipedia
Kermode Bear or Ursus Americanus Kermodei
Both the white and black bears that are found on Canada's west coast make up this rare species. The white bear is also known as Spirit bear or Ghost bear.
Scientists don't know very much about the origins of this unique bear. No one yet has determine the true originations of the Kermode bear. It is thought by many scientists to have developed from a separate strain of coastal black bear that was cut off from populations of black bear inland.
It is still under speculation about why the Kermode bear, which has a unique recessive gene never found in any other mammal, is found only in these bears in a small area of the coast of Canada.
Kermit Kitland of the University of British Columbia studies the Kermode bears. The study,funded by Forest Renewal, British Columbia was to locate the origins of the Kermode's white gene and to determine if "a change in a single base pair of a recessive gene" stops the production of the pigments that make the bear's black and in turn produces a cream white cub.
Ritland found where the Kermode bears with the "white gene" appears most often: the large islands off the coastal mainland.
In the report, Ritland, also suggests that to maintain the healthy gene pool on these islands, that there need be a limited interaction with the inland black bears. That if a large influx of black bears were migrated or were moved from inland, the Kermode bear gene pool would become severely diluted thus ending the Kermode bear.
Kitasoo legend says...
Raven, the Creator, went among the bears and turned every tenth bear white to serve as a reminder of a time when the Earth's great glaciers covered the landscape.
Where Can You find Kermode Bears?
Kermode Bear Range
Canadian Geographic has some good information on the Kermode or Spirit Bear. Click the following photo for more information and a larger view of the Kermode Bear's range.
Spirit Bear Habitat
where do spirit bears or kermode bears live?
Kermode bears live on the Pacific Coast of British Columbia, Canada. Their range includes Prince Royal Island, Princess Royal, Pooley, Gribbell and Prince Rupert Island. The populations where the gene appears most often is Princess Royal, Pooley, and Gribbell. 1 out of every 10 bears on these islands are white.
The bears live in the islands rainforest known as the Great Bear Rainforest. It is one of the is the largest intact, unspoiled, coastal temperate rainforest left in the world.
Because the habitat for the Kermode bear was under threat from logging, in 2006 a series of conservancies stretching 250 miles along the coast of the Island were established. This protected area is twice the size of Yellowstone National Park. The area is home to not only the Spirit Bear but also to grizzly bears, cougars, wolves, and salmon.
On January 21, 2007, the Canadian government pledged to spend US$26m to protect this rainforest. Along with the pledge from British Columbia and donations, total funding for the reserve is $120 million.
Physical Characterics of the Kermode Bear
what do Kermode Bears look like?
Kermodes come in a variety of colors ranging from reddish, gray, yellow, orange. About 1 out of 10 are cream/white, which are the ones called Spirit or Ghost bears.
Due to a rare recessive gene, these bears who have white fur are not albino. Their eyes and nose are both brown not white as an albino would be. A white bear cub is the offspring of a male and female bear, each carrying that special gene.
They have 5 claws like all other bears and they are non-retractable.
Where a cub is born at about 1/2 pound, an adult can weigh up to 300 pounds.
In the Tsimshian language, the Spirit Bears are known as Moksgm'ol.
Birth Facts of the Kermode
How often Kermode Bears mate
Like the Black Bear, Spirit bears weigh about 1/2 pound when they are born. They give birth to 1 to 4 cubs (usually 2) in the Spring. They stay with their mothers for 2 years learning survival skills from her. The bears den in the hollows of old-growth trees.
In this photo, the Kermode bear has 2 black cubs.
What Kermode Bears Eat
What do kermode bears eat?
The main food source for the Kermode bears is salmon which makes up 95% of their food. the other 5% is made up of plants, fruits, nuts and insects.
Many of the Kermode bears have a yellowish tinge to their fur. This is thought to be the result of their high salmon diet.
Spirit Bear Video
Kermode Bears -- Black mom and white cub
I received the 2 photos below of the Black Bear Momma with her white cub some time last year. I was told they were taken in 2004 near Gordon, WI. Which would be highly unusual since the Kermode bear species are found only on Canada's west coast.
I wondered it they could these be distance cousins? However, I just found one of the pictures on a website that said they were taken in Terrance, British Columbia. This makes much more sense!
PHOTO UPDATE: Brian posted a comment with the story behind these photos. He said, "The black bear with white cub photo was taken in 2004, but from Manitoba not from BC or WI. There is an article in the International Bear News, 2004, vol 13 #4, a members newsletter for the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA). To summarize, the sow and white cub were first seen in June 2004 feeding on roadside garbage ini land between lake Winnipegosis and Cedar Lake, Manitoba. Photos were published, media hailed a 'rare albino' (though told it was likely not). The area became popular, with people bringing food to attract the bear, and on July 11 the mother was struck and killed by a vehicle.
"The cub was accepted by Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo. The Chemawawin Cree Nation named it Maskwa (Cree for bear). Tests were run to determine if the cub had the same double-recessive coloration gene that make Kermode bears white, but I don't know the results of that test."
Spirit Bears in City of Terrace, British Columbia
In the City of Terrace, a contest was held for local artists to use their artistic skills to decorate a Spirit Bear statue.
The spirit Bear statues can be found throughout Terrace and the local area. At the right is a photo or one and below are photos of two more.
Spirit Bear Mother in City of Terrace
Luna's Bear in City of Terrace
Spirit Bear - The Movie
Spirit Bear Book - A must have for the bear lover
More Books about the Spriit Bear for your Reading Pleasure
Spirit Bears in danger by oil company - The remaining 400 Kermode aka Spirit Bears in danger
The remaining 400 Kermode Bears aka Spirit Bears are endangered by big oil. Please watch this video then go to Save the Spirit Bear and voice your concerns.
Organizations working to save the Kermode Bear
- SBYC : Spirit Bear Youth Coalition
Dr. Jane Goodall cites the campaign to save the spirit bear as one of her reasons for hope - and indeed the campaign offers many reasons to believe that the spirit bear will soon be saved.
- Bear Matters BC
Bears Matter! Therefore, our mission at Bear Matters BC is to conserve all species of wild bear populations. How? By providing a forum to foster a better understanding of bear behaviour and the necessity to preserve bear habitat. Also by encouraging
- the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada
Dr. Jane Goodall will receive the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) from the University of Haifa at a tribute dinner on November 16, 2008 in Toront
- Conservation Voters of BC
Conservation Voters of BC works on making BC politicians accountable to the strong environmental values of the BC public.
Helping to protect the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada.
- Pacific Wild - Wildlife Conservation on Canada's Pacific Coast - British Columbia - Home
Pacific Wild is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting Canada's Pacific coast. Working with environmental organizations, local communities, businesses, scientists, educators and a concerned global citizenry our mission is to d
Places to find more info on Kermode Bears - Photos of Spirit bears
- Kermode Bear Photos | Ursus americanus kermodei | SeaPics.com
Pictures of Kermode bears, the Spirit Bear or Ghost Bear famous for its white coat
- In pictures: The Spirit Bear, the rare 'blonde' black bear of Canada's western coast
It may look like a polar bear that has ventured too far south - but these once-in-a-lifetime photographs are of the extremely rare Spirit Bear.
Spirit Bear with Cubs - Courtesy of www.bearmatters.com
Member of Save Our Bears (SOB) Headquarters
Save Our Bears is a group of lenses devoted to help change the plight all of the 8 bear species through awareness and fund raising.
The lenses show the wonderful nature of bears and many will, at the same time, shine a spotlight on the dangers bears face including: trophy hunters, gall bladder and bile farming, pollution, bear baiting, global warming, and habitat destruction.
You'll also find fun lenses on great polar bear movies, books, teddy bears, even cartoon and toy bears.Click Save Our Bears (SOB) to go to the headquarters page.
News and articles about Spirit Bears/Kermode Bears
- Impending spring hunt imperils iconic spirit bear - The Globe and Mail
Bear-viewing guide believes there are no more than 200 of the white-coated creatures: 'I'm very sad. I can't believe this hunt exists'
- Canadian Spirit Bears are Brought Out of Hiding
Video: Canadian Spirit Bears are brought out of hiding.
Spirit Bear courtesy of Wikipedia
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The Spirit Bear aka Kermode Bear aka Ghost Bear
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