Just recently Steve Kozlowski, a wildlife photographer for 18 years, captured this amazing photo of a Kermode Bear. The Kermode Bears are otherwise known as the Spirit Bear or Ursus americanus kermodei. They are rarely seen, as their habitat has been diminishing for years. The photographer caught this just outside of his tent.
The Tsimshian people of Western Canada called this bear “Moksgm’ol” – which roughly translates to “white bear”. The term “Spirit Bear” was likely chosen by First Nations tradition, which believe the white bears were to be left untouched and protected. The Spirit Bear is not a Polar Bear, nor an Albino, as the Spirit Bears have brown noses and brown eyes. The Spirit Bears are a subspecies of the North American Black Bear. Their colour is caused by a recessive gene which causes their coat to be a beautiful pale cream colour, with occasional tinges of yellow or orange on their backs. Zooligists believe 1/10 of the Spirit Bears are born with white fur. These Spirit bears are omnivores, they feed primarily on berries, greens, and salmon.
Scientists call this species an “umbrella” species. If a large enough ecosystem for these bears can be protected, countless other species will benefit from it as well. Including Salmon, Wolves, Grizzlies, Birds, etc. The Spirit Bears have lived in the Pacific Northwest Rainforest for thousands of years, with the largest observed population being right near Princess Royal Island. They are in danger of losing their habitat, which will pose a significant threat to their population. This once massive forest has been shrinking yearly, due to urbanization and logging which has been increasing lately. It is currently estimated that there are only a few hundred remaining Spirit Bears left in British Columbia.
For those of you wishing to help protect the Spirit Bears habitat, check out Raincoast, They are a non-profit team of conservationists and scientists dedicated to protecting the lands, waters and wildlife of the Great Bear Rainforest. Email them and ask how you can help.