The Kermode Bears of British Columbia

White Spirit Bears

White spirit (Kermode) bears of British Columbia
Photo courtesy of Doug Neasloss & Spirit Bears Adventures

Located on the remote west coast of Canada is a temperate rainforest that's home to the White Spirit Bear of BC. Genetically rare, these black bears are white, yellowish and golden in colour and are collectively known as Kermode Bears. The highest concentration of Spirit Bears can be found in the Kitasoo Spirit Bear Protected Area.

Kermode Bears are not related to polar bears. They are a sub-species of the North American black bear and cannot interbreed with grizzly or polar bears.

Where To See the White Spirit Bears

A few hundred Spirit Bears can be found in the old growth forests of British Columbia, on the Pacific coast, but have also been documented as far east as Minnesota. The rich coastal rain forest provides abundant food and seclusion for them to survive.

 

 

 

 

  • Spirit bears are also called Kermode bears after Frank Kermode, the former director of the Royal BC Museum who did extensive research on the sub-species.

  • Spirit bears are not albino since their eyes are not red & their noses are not white. They can range in color from golden brown to yellow to white. A mottled coat is normal.

  • Black bears (of which the Kermode bear is a sub-species) weigh between 150 - 500 lbs, smaller than grizzly bears which also inhabit the BC coast.

  • Kermode bears eat the abundant berries, fruit, grass & roots in the temperate coastal rain forest. Their main source of protein is the salmon that migrate up the rivers and streams in autumn. Given the chance, they will hunt young deer.

  • Common to all bears, the young cubs stay with their mothers for the first year or two to learn how to forage and hunt.

  • Black bears can live to more than 25 years old. They may look cute & cuddly but are wild animals and should be treated appropriately. Learn how to handle a bear encounter.


View Spirit Bear of Canada - Kitasoo Spirit Bear Protected Area in a larger map

 

As of 2006, the white Kermode Spirit Bear is one of the official symbols of British Columbia.

There are many more things to see and do in BC, including scenic stops and viewpoints and interesting (and wacky) roadside attractions!