The Kermode bear also known as a “spirit bear” (particularly to the Native tribes of British Columbia), is a subspecies of the American Black Bear living in the central and north coast of British Columbia, Canada.It is noted for about 1/10 of their population having white or cream-coloured coats. This colour morph is due to recessive alleles common in the population. They are not albinos and not any more related to polar bears or the “blonde” brown bears of Alaska’s “ABC Islands” than other members of their species.
The National Geographic estimates the Spirit population at 400–1,000 individuals, saying that “the spirit may owe its survival to the protective traditions of the First Nations, who never hunted the animals or spoke of them to fur trappers”
Because of their spirit-like look, spirit bears hold a prominent place in the oral stories of the Canadian First Nations and American Indians of the area. It has also been featured in a National Geographic documentary.Scientists have found that black bears are not as effective at catching fish as white bears, as the white ones are less visible from the perspective of the fish. While at night the two colours of bears have similar success rates at catching fish, such as salmon, during the day the whites are 30% more effective.
The Kermode bear was named after Francis Kermode, former director of the Royal B.C. Museum,who researched the subspecies and a colleague of William Hornaday, the zoologist who described it.