Several rare white ‘Spirit Bear” cubs have made an appearance in the community of Elkford. These cubs are unique, mysterious and still yet unexplained what is causing their coats to be white. In 2008 a white bear was seen in Elkford, caught and relocated and no other sightings have been reported of white bears until now.
These bears as beautiful as they are to see in town, can be in serious danger of becoming habituated and human food conditioned. “Because these bears are so rare, it is so important that we as a community protect them,” says Jutta Kolhi, Bear Aware Community Coordinator. “The way we can protect them is by keeping them wild. The community needs to come together as a whole and make sure there are no bear attractants left outside. Attractants can include the obvious, garbage, food, fruit left on trees, but bears can also be attracted to anything that has a scent including diapers or petroleum products,” says Kolhi. “This time of year, bears are preparing for hibernation and looking for any food source they can find. Habituated bears are a bigger problem to humans than wild bears and they will remember a human source of food and keep returning. Relocating bears that have lived within a community poses its own set of problems. “Bears often return even after being relocated, as well the survival rate for them is low because they are in an new environment and may come into conflict with other bears,” notes Kolhi.
Recently, a family of four visited a little too close to comfort at an Elkford residents home. “We were inside getting ready for supper when and all of a sudden we noticed the bears on our deck,” says Kristy Anonson. The family of four is a brown coloured sow with triplets, one black and two white. “The bears were climbing all over our deck, and knocking our flower pots down. They come back almost every day. They are amazing to see, but now I will not let my kids play outside unless I am outside as well,” she says.
As well, a bear sow and three cubs one white, one black, and one cinnamon-coloured cub have also been seen in the community of Elkford.
Scientists are still trying to understand what makes these bears white. It is unknown whether these black bears just have a really white or light coloured coat, or if they may share a genetic relationship with the Coastal Kermode Bears, or may simply carry other genes that possess this trait. “If anyone that has had the bears in their yard is able to find a hair sample from any of the family of bears, we ask that you collect the sample. The hair sample will allow scientist to carry out tests to find out more about these bears,” says Kolhi. “As always we remind the public to use caution around these bears, when they are in your area stay inside and keep pets indoors. Bears can be dangerous.
If bears are spotted in your area please call Jutta Kolhi, Bear Aware Community Coordinator at 250. 910. 0959 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All bear sightings should also be reported to the Ministry of Environment 24-hour hotline at 1-877-952-7277. Please remember, it is illegal to hunt white bears.