British Columbia is home to a range of wildlife, including 152 wildlife species and sub-species that are considered candidates for endangered, threatened, or vulnerable status. However none of these animals are likely as intriguing or representative of the province as the Kermode Bear.
The Kermode Bear (pronounced kerr-MO-dee), or Spirit Bear to native First Nations tribes, is a subspecies of the North American black bear living in the central and northern coast of BC. They are known for a recessive allele that causes one-tenth of the population to have white or cream-coloured fur. A male Kermode Bear can reach 500lbs or more, however females are much smaller with a maximum weight of 300lbs. Standing straight up the Kermode bear can reach 180cm (6 ft.) in height.
Spirit Bears hold a prominent place in the oral stories of the Canadian First Nations of the area. The Kermode Bear is only found in the Great Bear Rainforest in BC’s northern coastal region. Unfortunately it is estimated that there are fewer than 400 Kermode Bears left in the coastal areas between the Alaska panhandle and the tip of Vancouver Island, and only 120 bears remaining on the Princess Royal Island. In 2006, the BC Government created the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, which established a core conservancy of 4.4 million acres, including 500,000 acres of Kermode habitat, closed off to logging, mining, and hunting.
Numerous tours take visitors into the Great Bear Rainforest with the hopes of spotting a Kermode Bear in the wild. For more information visit the Tourism BC website.