Spirit Bear Facts


Spirit Bear Facts


Spirit Bear by Stephanie Waymen


The rare Spirit Bear is known locally by several names;

-Kermode Bear, named after Francis Kermodei, former director of the Royal B.C. Museum.
-White Bear or Ghost Bear is often used by local folks.
-Moksgm’ol by local First Nations.
-Ursus americanus kermodei by Scientists.
-Spirit Bear is a more recent name for the White Bear.  Appropriate for a bear that is known for it’s elusive, ghostly yet timid nature.

This rare White Bear is actually a Black Bear! Scientists are actively studying this rare genetic trait that is possibly due to a recessive gene, or could be due to a result of a concentration of gene in a given area. The Spirit Bear is not an albino.

Scientists estimate there are 1,200 black and white Kermode bears in the coast area that stretches from around the northern tip of Vancouver Island northwards to the Alaska panhandle. On Gribbell Island, up to 30 per cent of the bears can be white while on the larger Princess Royal Island, about 10 per cent have the white coat.

Many sightings are reported around the Terrace area, making the Spirit Bear it’s official mascot. They are often seen as far east as Hazelton, as far north as the Nass Valley up to Cranberry Junction and as far west as Prince Rupert.

Even though Kitimat is closest to the largely populated area of Princess Royal Island, there are almost no sightings in the area.

Check out the first ever map of Spirit Bear Sighting Map in the Great Bear Rainforest, which is a protected area for these rare, special bears.

Like most black bears, the Spirit Bear only weighs about half a pound at birth, growing to 150-300 pounds when fully grown. The Kermode’s size averages between 4 and 6 feet. Height measured from paw to shoulders averages between 2 ½ and 3 feet.

The beautiful Spirit Bear will eat almost anything. Including you!
However, there have been no reports of them eating people.

Being omnivores, they mostly live on fish and berries, but also eat deer and moose fawns, carrion, insects, plants, fruits, nuts, mushrooms and nuts. They depend on salmon runs in the fall to fatten themselves up for the long winter hibernation, where they can go without food for up to 7 months.

They are seen mostly alone, except sows with cubs. If you see a Mother sow bear with cubs, keep your distance, they’re rather ferocious towards any perceived threat.

When walking in the deep woods, chant or whistle to let them know of your presence so you don’t surprise them.

They are known to run up to 55 km an hour!

Females reach sexual maturity at three to four years of age. They mate during the late spring, early summer months, gestating about 220 days. Cubs are born in their mother’s winter den in January or February, and are weaned at about eight months, but may remain with their mother for up to a year-and-a-half, when she is ready to mate again.

Like black bears, their average life span is about 25 years.

Check out the first ever book written on The White Spirit Bear
written by the venerable Tess Tessier;









Description of “White Spirit Bear” by Grandma Tess (Tess Tessier aka Brousseau):

“This book tells the story of the unusual and beautiful creatures that inhabit ancient rainforests on the northwest coast of British Columbia. Seldom interacting with humans, these rare white black bears have lived peacefully for centuries in the pristine environment of Princess Royal Island and the surrounding mainland. Readers will discover where the bears live, what they eat, how they behave and why they are white. Known as the bears’ goodwill ambassador, author Grandma Tess also discusses the importance of preserving the bears’ habitat.
Through her messages of ‘caring and sharing’, readers realize the importance of learning to live in harmony with all the creatures of the earth. The author introduces the Spirit Bears through stunning photographs and informative topics.
The book appeals to different reading levels so that children can read along, read aloud or read alone. There is simple text for beginners and there is fuller, complementary text for more experienced readers. Though it is written for young people, the subject is one that concerns everyone. This book is sure to be treasured by the entire family.”

Please Click Here to Order “White Spirit Bear”



  14 Responses to “Spirit Bear Facts”

Comments (14)
  1. love west coast living the Bears the First Nations peoples and there art and the ways of living , the respect and love of nature and all critters Salmon to the Owls to the Orcas and the Bear and the Moose , Otter and the Beaver the Ravin and Eagle and so many more ♥ ……

  2. I have to research this bear for school because we are reading the book Spirit Bear. We need to find out their personality and why they are so important…i need help…please give me feedback and help me find these answers…thanks :D

  3. I’ll be happy to help your research Linda. I’ll email you directly, bear hugs, Steph

  4. I have been watching this bear for over 60 years and doing much study. Your descriptions of the ebar are wrong in so many ways. The first is the spelling of Mr Kermode and the spelling of the Bear. KERMODEI. THe second is the supposition that there is one bear in ten that is white. There is no proof of that. There were not and are not Spirit Bears in NAtive lore. There were white bears and Black bears Muska moll means only white bear Keep your site PURE, don’t mess it up with the garbage that is on the net. Look in the book The Mammals of British Columbia by McTaggert Cowan. I know the grandson of the man who supplied the first skulls for Kermode to examins. There are enough interesting true things about this bear that things need to be invented. Les watmough.

  5. Thank you for your comment Mr. Watmough
    Keep in mind that the internet is the only “store front” we have, so I have
    to include all keywords, that’s how people find us.
    Thanks for the recommended reading, I will get that (-:

  6. is it a girl or boy tyvm

  7. Apollo is a boar (male). :-)

  8. I have see that Apollo has been coming and going since March 24. Is he likely to continue doing that for the entire season or to leave entirely? Do bears usually use the some den each winter?

  9. Hi Susan,
    Well, we’re not really sure. We’re assuming he’ll leave soon, for the summer, but who knows! Watch and see. :-)

  10. Thanks for your response. The camera is now only showing one corner of the cave. I saw Apollo get up today around 2pm, I think, and he stood at the opening of the cave for several minutes. Part of the time it looked like he was checking out the camera. Maybe he knocked it…

  11. thanks for your information.


  13. Faster than you can imagine. Faster than your eye can see! Never underestimate the speed of a bear, they’re shockingly fast!

  14. It is possible that you did not register my email from two minutes ago so here we go ——The Kermode Bear is the correct name for the bear,it is only in last couple of years that someone decided that the bear should be called the same name as the Great Spirit Park Leave history alone,Canada has a great habit of renaming place at will with no thought of our long history.As a native Manxwoman, Born Rita Kermode and now a true Canadian it never ceases to amaze me how we can change our history at will to suit those that arrive later on our shores.Thank for the time reading this epistle, I remain ,Yours truly Rita Dale nee Kermode.