The resort town of Whistler, situated just north of Vancouver is known for being the largest skiable area in North America and also for its picturesque views of the wild side of British Columbia.
It was here a group on a guided tour spotted a cream-colored bear cub with its mother that has since attracted the attention of millions. While the initial reaction for most would be to believe this bear to be an albino specimen, there are those that believe the cub more accurately fits the description of a Kermode bear or Spirit bear.
There are reports of approximately 100 Kermode bears in the wild that sport white or cream-colored fur, brown eyes, dark noses and crisp, white claws. The white coloring of these bears is the result of a double recessive gene unique to the subspecies that is handed down when both parents contribute this gene to their young.
“After 23 years of research, I have seen cubs ranging black, reddish brown, chocolate brown to blonde (after summer bleaching of coat) but, never have seen in this population, a cub with pelage this light to almost white,” bear researcher Michael Allen wrote in his Whistler bear report.
While there has been no official word on whether or not the bear is in fact a Kermode bear, officials have grown increasingly concerned for the safety of the bear.
“There is a bit of a threat to this bear,” Sgt. Simon Gravel of the Conservation Officer Service’s Squamish office told the Vancouver Sun. “It’s a special bear and will attract a lot of attention.
“The biggest threat to him is human curiosity.”
Wildlife officials urge visitors not to approach any bears and are working closely with local guide companies to prevent close encounters.
H/T: Vancouver Sun