Ask A Bear: Are White Spirit Bears Real?

Our resident bruin expert answers all in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'
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Our resident bruin expert answers all in our weekly feature, 'Ask A Bear.'

Q: After the Olympics in Vancouver, my buddy told me he thought he remembered someone on TV saying they found a white spirit bear. Is this true, or is he smoking too much peyote?—Gerald Nutinya, via email

A: I'm happy to report that your pal isn't just making up stories after getting hazed and infused with post-Olympics joy.

There is a rare subspecies of black bear, called a Kermode bear, that often exhibits white pigmentation. These bears aren't albino or blonde like some other black and brown bears; instead, they possess a recessive gene that expresses itself in 1/10 of the population as a white or cream-colored coat. They're usually found on the coast of British Columbia, but sightings have been reported in Minnesota, too.

In fact, some folks in BC recently stumbled upon a hibernating Kermode bear when they fell into its den. They've set up a webcam to watch the bear (which they named Apollo) while he sleeps. Watch:

Now, maybe I wouldn't feel this way if it was a person, but watching me while I sleep? That's just plain creepy, folks.

—BEAR

Got a question for the bear? Send it to askabear@backpacker.com.