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
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.
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.
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
This Lens Honored With A Purple Star
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The Spirit Bear aka Kermode Bear aka Ghost Bear
This work is covered by copyright and can not be reprinted
in any matter (physical or digital) without prior written consent.
Copyright 2008-2012 Frankie Kangas All rights reserved.
Please use this guest book to share your thoughts about this lens. Thank you.
Guestbook for your feedback
lacadie on April 16, 2020:
I hope they save the spirit bears because they have a hole live that needs to keep going they are just like us, they have feelings to just like us please don't throw their life away please save them
PEPPA on February 26, 2020:
who changed it from black to white
Name on February 18, 2020:
It was a good story but there are a lot of mistakes. Use Grammarly.
billy on February 18, 2020:
received the 2 photos below of the Black Bear Momma with her white cub sometime last year. I was told they were taken in 2004 near Gordon, WI. This would be highly unusual since the Kermode bear species are found only on Canada's west coast.
I wondered if they could these be distant 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 member 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 in the 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 makes Kermode bears white, but I don't know the results of that test."
molly on January 22, 2020:
help save spirit bears now!!!!!!:):):):):):):):)
666 on February 21, 2019:
that was terrible
mason on December 03, 2014:
nice but you should put more videos
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on July 17, 2013:
I think this is the first time that I have heard of the Kermode Bear and sure enjoyed learning about this unusual bear.
Stephen Bush from Ohio on December 19, 2012:
Thank you for the important information and insights about the Spirit Bear.
anonymous on December 10, 2012:
every time i help my brother with his homework im willing to learn more things like abou this statement about kermode bears
anonymous on December 04, 2012:
what bueiteful bear i would hate to see it get killed and die of the oiel spil if it does i want to give then a pice of my mind
anonymous on August 22, 2012:
I have always loved the Bear Kind. Moksgm'ol is My Favorite. Many thanks
JoshK47 on May 17, 2012:
What beautiful creatures - thank you so much for sharing them with us! Blessed by a SquidAngel!
Kathryn Wallace from Greenbank, WA, USA on February 27, 2012:
Love love love this lens, no surprise that it's from the Frankster :)
Brandi from Maryland on February 27, 2012:
I've heard of Spirit Bears...they are beautiful! ;)
flicker lm on February 27, 2012:
Beautifully done! Really enjoyed learning about this bear and also the photos.
shandigp on February 27, 2012:
What beautiful creatures, the spirit bears. Now I want to see a lens on spirit bear art such as the statues above. Well designed lens, too. *Squid Blessed!*
RinchenChodron on February 27, 2012:
Thank you for all your bear work! I'm pinning this on pinterest/pmbc
sousababy on February 27, 2012:
Came back to google +1 this gem. Belated congrats for a well-deserved purple star for this too!
sousababy on February 27, 2012:
A Squidoo Quest (International Polar Bear Day) popped up and the first person I thought of was you. Your devotion to bears is obvious in everything I have read of yours . . keep 'em coming. Take good care, Rose
anonymous on February 27, 2012:
Glad to run into you this morning! *blessed*
MGuberti on February 25, 2012:
Those bears are interesting!
JustOneGuy on February 24, 2012:
Very fascinating lens. I had no idea that such bears even existed. Instead of stopping that pipeline from going through the rainforest, why not make the penalties for oil spills extreme, with the company having to place enough money into a special account to cover the worst case scenario. The money (rather, just the interest on the fund) would be used for this specific geographic area and for the protection and study of these bears and to help care for them. It would seem that since they are pretty much identical to other black bears, wouldn't it be possible to populate other areas with these same bears, thus expanding the geography they are found in? The money which the disaster fund would earn could be used for this. The only thing I'd worry about is the politicians somehow getting hold of the fund and using it for other things or simply stealing it. As political administrations change, permission to build the pipeline will be given behind closed doors, it's just a matter of time. Better to get the money to protect the bears before it's too late. Just a thought. Thanks for the great lens.
Pineapple-Princess on February 24, 2012:
Wow great lens....Interesting how different varieties of a species can arise....Kinda makes teddy bears a little more realistic(they come in many shades).
Shana rios Chavez on February 23, 2012:
Great lens I learned a lot!!! thanks
Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on February 22, 2012:
It is fascinating to learn about the Spirit Bear or Kermode Bear. How interesting that they are indigenous to just one area of the world.
ismeedee on February 21, 2012:
What beautiful creatures! I'd never heard of them before and this lens is so informative with lovely photos and videos! Let's hope these bears don't disappear before more people get to learn about them!
anonymous on February 18, 2012:
beautiful lens, thanks
Terrie_Schultz on February 05, 2012:
Beautiful lens! I love these bears.
Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on October 19, 2011:
What a beautiful bear!!! I have never seen one in real life. That picture with the momma and cub is adorable! The Spirit Bear momma with her cubs looks so proud and happy. Blessed
celeBritys4africA on October 11, 2011:
I discover new things, a very informative lens.
anonymous on October 06, 2011:
My class used this site for facts on anmals. THIS SITE ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
rangiiria on August 11, 2011:
This lens deserves a purple star. Well done :)
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on August 10, 2011:
Congrats on your Purple Star! Very interesting lens. Thanks for educating us all about the uniqueness of the Spirit Bear. Beautiful creature that deserves our protection. *Blessed*
onlinemba on May 16, 2011:
Thanks for sharing such useful information
RinchenChodron on April 23, 2011:
Very interesting - NOT an albino! Thanks for this educational lens.
imolaK on April 10, 2011:
Another great and informative lens! Blessed!
SylviaRolfe on March 28, 2011:
You are obviously an animal lover, kudos for a great lens. I love animals too, that's why I am trying to shut down this "zoo" http://www.squidoo.com/shut-down-guzoo
Delia on March 17, 2011:
Congrats, Great Purple Star lens! Wonderful images on this lens and very interesting information...We had the White Buffalo born in our town...
Tagsforkids on March 17, 2011:
Wonderful lens. Conrats on a well deserved Purple Star!
sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on March 12, 2011:
congrats for the purple.
Indigo Janson from UK on February 17, 2011:
I had never heard of the Spirit or Ghost Bear. It's beautiful! How sad that the little bear was orphaned though.
anonymous on January 20, 2011:
@anonymous: me too
ZoeNature on November 14, 2010:
Such a beautiful lens! Thank you for sharing this wonderful info on the Spirit Bear!
KimGiancaterino on October 07, 2010:
Thanks for all you do to help bears. I'm sure you were heartbroken about the mother bear being killed by a vehicle. It's a sad story and shows why people should interfere as little as possible with wild animals.
anonymous on March 23, 2010:
Enjoyed the lens, thank you for putting it together.
Patricia on March 19, 2010:
Wonderful lens! Blessed and enjoyed it!
anonymous on February 17, 2010:
Im just on here for a school thing...we are reading the book 'Touching Spirit Bear'...our teacher is making us look on this website to find information on "Spirit Bears".
julieannbrady on January 02, 2010:
Ah, dropped by as the spirit was moving me today. Always loved this lens and wanted to take a moment to say HEY and thank you for everything. May you have a remarkable journey this year my dear. Happy new year and hugeroonies! ;)
anonymous on November 12, 2009:
spirit bears r a rare subspecies of the american black bear, which needs to be protected and not hunted
wilddove6 on November 06, 2009:
Thank you for a beautiful look at a magnificent bear!
BC is my home territory
Rhonda Albom from New Zealand on October 22, 2009:
Beautiful lens. Blessed by a squidoo angel.
julieannbrady on October 16, 2009:
Blessings to YOU my dear! Squid Angel blessed today.
Butch-1 on May 23, 2009:
Hi this is Butch and I have a short video of a kermode Bear. My family got it last summer on the way to Terrace from Smithers.I was going to show it on a lens. Then I found this lens and if you contact me I can let you use it .Bruce Mackay
Frankie Kangas (author) from California on May 01, 2009:
[in reply to Brian] Brian, Thanks for the "rest of the story" as Paul Harvey would say. I included the info in the module above with the photos. Thanks again!
anonymous on April 26, 2009:
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.
You might consider the IBA's Bear Conservation Fund to support bear research?
anonymous on February 23, 2009:
This is a lovely lens. The bears are too!
anonymous on February 12, 2009:
we are doing a report on theme for a book
Christobal on November 30, 2008:
cool lens. i didn't know much about spirit bears before this... we're gonna also check out the movie about spirit bears that you have here. thanks for sharing.
kautagne on November 20, 2008:
Wow! Keep up the excellent work Frankie! Another fabulous 5 star lens, and a great addition to my "favorites".
lifecellcream1 on November 18, 2008:
Wow. Great job on these beautiful bears.
CherylStoney on November 17, 2008:
What beautiful bears. Never heard of them before but am glad I know about them now. Thanks for all you do for the bears!
Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on November 17, 2008:
Another beary nice lens.
Yvonne L B from Covington, LA on November 17, 2008:
Another great animal lens. Welcome to the Naturally Native Squids group. Don't forget to add your lens link to the appropriate plexo and vote for it.
Oran-Kangas on November 16, 2008:
Another great bear lens, Frankie. Bear hugs to you too, Oran
Kirsti A. Dyer from Northern California on November 16, 2008:
Beautiful lens. Thank you for including the donation part to Heifer International so it can be added to the Month of Thanks Challenge.