The special sub-species of black bear is also known as “spirit bear”, “white bear”, or “Moksgm’ol”, the revered subject of local Kitasoo native legend. The kermode is found only on a few coastal islands, including Princess Royal Island, and in three west-central Canadian valleys in British Columbia: the Nass, Skeena and Kispiox.
The kermode’s white color is probably controlled by a recessive gene. when the recessive gene exerts itself, the Kermode, the bears show the white color phase, just as a cinnamon- or brown-phased black bear would. It is believed that the isolated pocket of kermodes serve as a random genetic mutation; about one in ten here is white.
The normally all-wwhite or cream-colored bear can also appear as a white/black mixture, but very rarely. Early explorers once thought the kermode was an albino, but these bears do not have pink eyes; they have brown eyes and black noses.
The bears got their name from Francis Kermode, a former director of the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, B.C.
You can experience more fascinating photos and learn more about all varieties of ears and other charismatic predators in Volume 1, Issue 2 of Bears and Other Top Predators.