Extremely Rare White 'Spirit Bear' Spotted In Michigan For The First Time

By Taylor Linzinmeir

September 16, 2022

Photo: Getty Images

An extremely genetically rare "spirit bear" has been spotted living in the wilds of Michigan for the first time in recorded history, according to Mlive.

This month (September 2022), an approximately 100-pound male black bear with blonde fur appeared on a trail camera in the western Upper Peninsula. It has a nearly all-white coat, save for some cinnamon coloring on the back of its head and neck. This makes the bear a Kermode bear, otherwise known as a spirit bear.

Kermode bears are most commonly found living on islands along the Pacific Coastline of British Columbia. This is only the fifth time a spirit bear has been confirmed outside of British Columbia, which makes this Michigan mammal a one-in-a-million bear genetically, according to the nonprofit North American Bear Center.

The confirmation of a Kermode bear in Michigan is an incredible discovery for wildlife science, according to bear researcher Lynn Rogers of the Wildlife Research Institute. “So, there are a few genes in this area,” he said. “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.”

Unfortunately, state wildlife experts have not been able to track the bear since its discovery, as they have been busy with the ongoing bear hunting season.

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