Possible “Spirit Bear” sighting south of Vanderhoof

On Sept. 30, while hunting with his cousin, a 17-year-old, Dawson Clapperton spotted a white bear just south of Vanderhoof.

  • Oct. 19, 2016 11:00 a.m.

Barbara Latkowski

Caledonia Courier

On Sept. 30, while hunting with his cousin, a 17-year-old, Dawson Clapperton spotted a white bear just south of Vanderhoof.

But could it really be one of the rare “Spirit Bears” who are known for their beautiful white coats and their elusive and timid nature?

Spirit bears or Kermode bears as they are also known, are a rare subspecies of the American black bear.

They have been found in the Great Bear Rainforest, closer to the coast of B.C. It is estimated that only 400 exist.

Many sightings are reported around the Terrace area, which explains the town naming the Spirit Bear as its official mascot.

The bears have been seen in Hazelton, as far north as the Nass Valley up to Cranberry Junction and as far west as Prince Rupert.

But what are the odds that this particular bear decided to take a detour to check out what Vanderhoof and area had to offer?

Dave Bakker, with the Northern Bear Awareness Society says it is quite possible and he won’t be too quick to dismiss it.

“But it’s hard to say. There have been white coloured black bears spotted more recently,” Bakker said.

“There were a couple found in the Kooenays, one in Jasper and a white cub was spotted two years ago in Jasper. By the end of the season, the cub ended up changing to more of a tan colour as it grew.”

“The Kermode has a double recessive gene that gives it its colour. And this might be more widespread than we know,” Bakker said.

“Or is there a characteristic about black bears that causes them to be white that we don’t know about. It is quite possible and we are always learning more.”

According to Bakker, without a full DNA analysis, it’s difficult to tell if this bear is in fact a Spirit bear.

But for Clapperton and all who have seen his video, the beautiful white bear is certainly a sight worth seeing.

For more information about the Northern Bear Awareness Society, visit: http://www.northernbearawareness.com/