(CANADA) Photographer Paul Nicklen has captured images of the extremely rare Kermode “Spirit” bear in a British Columbia forest. A subspecies of the American black bear, the population is believed to only be around a few hundred. The mystique of the Spirit bear, and small population prompted the B.C.’s provincial government to fine hunters $100,000 CAD for shooting one. Read on for more on this mysterious bear and the glorious photographs by Nicklen. — Global Animal
Daily Mail, Anthony Bond
With its bright white coat and enormous features, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a polar bear which has somehow found itself in a forest.
But actually, these incredible pictures show an extremely rare ‘white’ black bear.
Neither a polar bear nor an albino, this beautifully unique creature is known as the spirit bear, a white variant of the North American black bear.
The animal, also known as the Kermode bear, lives among the dense green forests of British Columbia.
Once thought to be a myth, these legendary creatures are now so precious to the people of British Columbia, the Government has made it an offence to shoot one – with a fine of up to $100,000 CAD.
Wildlife photographers now travel from across the globe for the chance to capture the white bear on camera, which are virtually impossible to photograph, due to their scarcity.
But one lucky photographer who captured this series of images of the spirit bear in it’s natural habitat is Paul Nicklen.
The 43-year-old from Vancouver, Canada, said: ‘This little bear is amazing its pure white, it’s not a polar bear and there are only 200 left in the world – it’s more rare than a panda.
‘I sat in this forest for two months without ever seeing one and I felt sure I was going to leave empty handed.
‘But then after two months of wondering what I was going to do, this incredible big white male came right beside me about three feet away, he grabbed a fish and ate it.
‘I then spent my entire day living my childhood dream walking around with this bear through the forest.
‘I actually got to sleep within three feet of this bear and photograph him, it was a truly amazing experience.’