The Great Bear Rainforest is a massive and diverse ecological system with an area spanning the westcoast from northern Vancouver Island to southeast Alaska. Intricately linked as ocean, mountain, and forest where 1000 year-old cedars tower over fjords and granite, The Great Bear Rainforest is home to the rare white Spirit Bear.
The Spirit Bear, also named Kermode and officially known as Urus Americanus kermodei, are a unique sub-species of the North America black bear in which approximately one-in-ten bears are born white or cream in color.
The First Nation people who’s ancestors have inhabited the Great Bear Rainforest for thousands of years believe the Spirit Bear to have supernatural powers and it’s little wonder this rare white bear picked up the name “Spirit Bear.”
Unique to the Great Bear Rainforest, there are no other Spirit Bear populations worldwide and the protection of their habitat is important to their continued survival. As part of the larger dialogue happening around the Great Bear Rainforest, the issue of the Spirit Bear home range is an important one as the rare Spirit Bear represents an important “umbrella species.”
An umbrella species is any species who, if their habitat can be protected, many other species who share the same ecosystem are protected as well. If the Spirit Bear’s ecosystem can be protected, salmon, birds, wolves, deer, grizzly bears, insects, and many other species dependent on the Great Bear Rainforest ecosystem will be conserved and protected as well!
In 2006 the Province of BC in partnership with the Valhalla Wilderness Society announced 10 Spirit Bear conservancies totaling 200,000+ hectares of temperate rainforest. In the process the Spirit Bear has become an international icon for the entire campaign in conserving the Great Bear Rainforest.
As we talk about keeping BC water’s clean and ancient untainted ecosystems vibrant, we must be reminded to keep talking about the Spirit Bear who’s home is in the heart of the Great Bear Rain Forest! Thousands-year-old habitat is not something we want to loose by human error, development, or progress – it is something worth defending, protecting and passing on to the generations to follow.
So here’s to the Spirit Bear, may your land always be yours.