The Ghost Bear

By The original uploader of this image was Jackmont at English Wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3430514

The original uploader of this image was Jackmont at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3430514

The Kermode bear (also known as the Ghost Bear or Spirit Bear), the species Ursus kermodi, was named in 1905 in honor of Francis Kermode, a zoologist who conducted the first studies into the origins of these bears. The Kermode bear was reclassified in 1928 as a unique subspecies (Ursus americanus kermodei) of the American black bear. Kermode bears evolved over the last 10,000 years from black bears that became isolated more than 300,000 years ago.

Because of their special color and rarity, the kermode bear is revered by local Native American culture. They are referred to as the Spirit Bear or Ghost Bear, appropriate for a bear that is known for it’s elusive, ghostly yet timid nature. In Native American legend, the spirit bear is a reminder of times past, specifically the white color of ice and snow. The master of the universe created one white bear for every ten black bears as a reminder of the hardships during the ice age. The spirit bear also symbolizes peace and harmony.

Kermode bears are found on coastal islands in British Columbia, Canada. The territories with the highest concentration of white colored bears are on Princess Royal Island and Gribbell Island. Outside British Columbia only about one in a million black bears is white, the Spirit Bear is not an albino. Scientists are actively studying this rare genetic trait that is possibly due to a recessive gene, or could be due to a result of a concentration of gene in a given area. Their habitat includes dense forests with an abundance of plants, streams, fish, and animals. They eat all kind of vegetation, fruits, bulbs, insects, rodents, nuts, and salmon. Due to their abundant food supply it is easy for them to bulk up for the harsh winters.

By Jon Rawlinson - This is not a polar bear. This is a spirit bear (screenshot from footage I shot today in the great bear rainforest), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44204687

By Jon Rawlinson – “This is not a polar bear. This is a spirit bear (screenshot from footage I shot today in the great bear rainforest)” CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44204687

The population of the Kermode bear is estimated to be under 1300. Due to the remote and unspoiled territories that these bears live in, they are neither accustomed nor fearful of man. THey are known to run up to 55km an hour! The greatest threat to this species is the loss of its pristine habitat from ongoing logging operations. Global warming is a long term threat that alters the ecosystem also impacting the ghost bear. Reduction of salmon supplies by man made activities (primarily over fishing and pollution) also threaten the kermode ghost bear.