Kermode Bear © Sherry Kirkvold


The rare, elusive, near-white Kermode bear, or Spirit Bear, is the official provincial mammal for B.C. as it can only be found in the Great Bear Rainforest. Believed to be a genetic variation of the black bear, science shows a single recessive gene is responsible for the bear’s blonde coat. That’s why a black bear female can give birth to a Kermode, as all black bears in the region carry this recessive gene. A better hunter than their black bear kin, Kermode bears are less visible from a fish’s perspective.

Researchers studied the bears’ success rate at catching fish, and the Kermodes were 30% more effective than black bears at catching fish during the day. Spirit Bears are found most frequently on Princess Royal Island which is also the location of the recently created Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy. First Nations’ culture holds the Spirit Bear in high regard, believing the animal to have supernatural powers and the ability to make itself invisible. In some communities, this bear is also known as Ghost Bear. All wildlife within the Great Bear Rainforest is interconnected as each species, including the Spirit Bear, plays a critical role – in partnership with land, sea, climate, plants and trees – in maintaining a distinct, functioning ecosystem.

Download the free Central Coast Biodiversity app to learn about more than 210 plants, 80 birds, 190 marine invertebrates, 50 fish, 20 mammals and reptiles, and 120 different kinds of seaweed.

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