‘One in a million’: Rare 100-pound white ‘spirit bear’ seen on trail camera in first ever sighting in Michigan


LANSING, MICHIGAN: A rare male blonde ghost bear was found during the annual bear hunt that began Wednesday, September 7 in Michigan. The bear was caught by a wildlife camera aimed at a pile of bait, resulting in a rare sighting of one of North America’s most elusive creatures.

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Wildlife officials said this is the first time in Michigan history that such an animal has been confirmed in the state. Most ghost bears are found on a few islands, including the Pacific coast of Canada’s British Columbia; As such, it is rare to see this bear in Michigan.

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According to the North American Bear Center, “Ghost bears are rare black bears with white or creamy fur, brown eyes, dark nose pads, and almost white claws. They are not polar bears or albinos. Maybe there are 100.” So the discovery of a ghost bear with blond coloring added to the uniqueness of the sight.

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Mlive reported that Lynn Rogers of the Wildlife Research Institute in Minnesota, a well-known bear researcher, confirmed that Michigan is a “ghost bear.” He added that this is an incredible discovery for wildlife science. “So there are a couple of genes in that area,” he said excitedly. “It’s a double recessive gene. And if there are fewer of those genes here, it’s going to be rare that you get a double recessive combination.” Additionally, the animal found in Michigan is in Ely, Minnesota, according to the nonprofit North American Bear Center , genetically one bear in a million.

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According to the Independent, black bears can be seen across North America, from Alaska down to Mexico and Florida. However, only British Columbia has all-white bears. The bears are also known as the Kermode bears after Francis Kermode, who ran the province’s Royal BC Museum in the early 20th century. Cody Norton, wildlife biologist and large carnivore expert at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said, “So very cool. Very beautiful animal.”

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Spirit bears have a special place in the culture of some indigenous groups in the Pacific Northwest. This year, First Nations organizations have worked with the British Columbia government to help protect these animals.

Norton further added: “Obviously I’d really like to see it. If it’s harvested, we’d like to take a genetic sample and see if it’s the same genetic mutation found in British Columbia’s remote bear population, or if it’s something different.”

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In the US, Michigan has no legal protections for white-coated bears to protect them, unlike British Columbia’s Kermode or “ghost” bears. These bears are famous for their unique position in the forest. Their white fur provides camouflage against the often overcast sky.

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