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Original News Release





Feb. 7, 2006

Ministry of Agriculture and Lands

Office of the Premier





        Named after Frank Kermode, former director of the Royal B.C. Museum, Victoria.

        The Kermode or Spirit Bear is a black bear that has white fur due to a rare genetic trait.

        The bear is not albino, as it typically has a brown nose and eyes.

        The greatest concentration of Spirit Bears are found on the Central Coast and North Coast of British Columbia, Canada, but have been documented in northeast British Columbia and as far east in North America as Minnesota.

        In British Columbia, the greatest number of Spirit Bears are found on Princess Royal Island, where as many as one-tenth of the black bears born are white.

        In British Columbia, it is illegal to hunt the Spirit Bear.

        The Spirit Bear, like most black bears, weighs about half a pound when born and generally between 150-300 pounds when fully grown.

        The bearís body length, measured from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail, averages between four and six feet. Its height, measured from the bottom of the paw flat on the ground to the highest part of the shoulders, is between two-and-a-half and three feet.

        Spirit bears, like most black bears, are omnivores. They eat berries, nuts, fruits, roots, grasses and other plants, insects, deer and moose fawns, carrion and, during the salmon season from late summer through fall, spawning salmon.

        They are usually solitary, except females with offspring. Males keep large home ranges overlapping with smaller ranges of several females.

        Females reach sexual maturity at three to four years of age. Mating takes place during the summer months, with gestation taking about 220 days. Cubs are born in their motherís winter den in January or February, and are weaned at about eight months, but may remain with their mother for up to a year-and-a-half, when she is ready to mate again.

        Spirit bears can run up to 55 km per hour.

        They can go without food for up to seven months during hibernation in northern areas.

        Spirit bears can live for more than 25 years in the wild.





Mike Morton

Press Secretary

Office of the Premier

250 213-8218

Liz Bicknell

Communications Director

Ministry of Agriculture and Lands

250 356-2862


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