The Mysterious Kermode Bear

With their coat varying from white to pale yellow and their black nose, Kermode bears are some of the most intriguing animals. Thus, although they have the color of polar bears and live not far from grizzly bears, they are actually a subspecies of the black bear, as their scientific name suggests (Ursus americanus kermodei).

A relatively recent discovery

They were named “Kermode” bears in 1905 in honor of Francis Kermode, who was one of the first scientists to carry out studies on the origins of this bear and one of the directors of the Royal Museum of Columbia. British. The Tsimshians, an indigenous people of North America, call him “Spirit Bear” (Moksgm’ol). Indeed, according to their beliefs, some black bears have been transformed into white bears as a reminder that, in the past, the Earth was covered with glaciers.

The Kermode bear is found in British Columbia, a province of Canada on the west coast, and lives at the edge of the forest. It feeds mainly on fruits, berries and plants but also loves salmon and will not say no to an abandoned carcass if the opportunity arises!

The Spirit Bear

Its nickname of Spirit bear corresponds perfectly to this animal with a cream coat which seems to watch peacefully over the forest. This feature is not, however, a case of albinism. DNA analysis, conducted by geneticist Kermit Ritland of the University of British Columbia, has indeed shown that the white color of the coat was due to a recessive gene (the MC1R gene).

A fight for its preservation

Although it is forbidden to hunt it under penalty of a fine, the Kermode bear is in danger. Indeed, logging isolates individuals and greatly threatens the survival of the species. However, the associations fighting to protect him were able to celebrate a great victory a few months ago. Thus, after twenty years of negotiations, a plan to protect 85% of the Great Bear rainforest, in which the Kermode bears live, was adopted, which represents a significant area of ​​6.4 million hectares. of forest.

The World of Animals n°41
The World of Animals n°41 – Oracom

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