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Kermode Bear
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Genus: Ursus
Species: U. americanus
Subspecies: U. a. kermodei
Trinomial name
Ursus americanus kermodei
Hornaday, 1905

The Kermode Bear (Ursus americanus kermodei), also known as the "spirit bear", is a subspecies of the American Black Bear living in the central and north coast of British Columbia,[1] and noted for about 1/10 of their population having white or cream-coloured coats. This colour variant is due to a unique recessive trait in their gene pool—they are neither albino[1] nor related to polar bears or the "blond" brown bears of Alaska's "ABC Islands".

Because of their ghost-like appearance, "spirit bears" hold a prominent place in the Canadian First Nations / American Indian mythology of the area.[2]

The kermodei subspecies ranges from Princess Royal Island to Prince Rupert, British Columbia on the coast, and inland toward Hazelton, British Columbia. It is known to the indigenous population as Moksgm’ol. In the February 2006 Speech from the Throne by the Government of British Columbia, the Lieutenant Governor announced her government's intention to designate the Kermode or spirit bear as British Columbia's official animal. A male Kermode bear can reach 500 lb (225 Kg) or more, females get much smaller with a maximum weight of 300 lb (135 Kg). Straight up it stands 6 ft (180 cm) tall.

The Kermode bear was named after Francis Kermode, former director of the Royal B.C. Museum,[1] who researched the species and a colleague of William Hornaday, the zoologist who described it.[3]

Recent sightings

While on an expedition in the coastal forests of British Columbia in the late spring of 2009, wildlife photographer Steve Kozlowski found and photographed a bear which displayed the recessive white colour.[4]

Kermode bears are often seen and photographed along the highways of northwestern British Columbia, particularly along Highway 113 between Terrace and New Aiyansh. Several residents of Rosswood have also reported regularly seeing the bears.

Though greatest concentrations are in the north and central coast regions of British Columbia, Kermode bears have been documented in northeast B.C. and as far east as Minnesota, USA.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Spirit Bear Facts". Province of British Columbia. Retrieved 2009-12-03.  
  2. ^ Last Stand of the Great Bear. National Geographic. 2006. ISBN 0-7922-4110-X.  
  3. ^ Steve Warmack. "The Kermode Bear". Retrieved 2008-04-18.  
  4. ^ "Spirit bear captured on camera". The Daily Telegraph. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-06.  


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