Kermode Bear

Category: Wildlife

The Kermode bear, also known as the spirit bear, is a subspecies of American black bear found exclusively in Canada. Although you might think it at a glance, they aren’t albino or related to polar bears. Instead, Kermode bears have a special gene unique to the subspecies.

Kermode Bear

Kermode Bear

Scientific & Common Names

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Chordata

Class - Mammalia

Order - Carnivora

Family - Ursidae

Genus – Ursus

Species – U. americanus (kermodei)

Common Names – Kermode Bear, Spirit Bear, moksgm'ol (native Tshimshianic)


Similar in temperament to black bears, Kermode bears are generally shy and avoid confrontation, depicted by this figurine’s timid gait.


Gestation is around 235 days, with a litter of one to six cubs. Around 10% of U. americanus kermodei cubs are born as white or cream-colored Kermode "Spirit" Bears.


Kermode bears, like black bears, can be active during the day and night, and have very keen senses of eyesight, smell and hearing. Like black bears, they enter their dens in the fall and will hibernate for several months.


Endemic to British Columbia, spirit bears hold a prominent place in the folklore and cultural traditions of the surrounding human populations. In fact, they are the official provincial mammal of British Columbia. Interestingly, researchers have surmised that the unique coloration of the Kermode bear actually makes them better hunters of fish during the daytime when compared to normal black bears, because their light fur in combination with the sunlight makes them less visible to marine life.

Present Status

The black bear is considered a "Least Concern" species due to its widespread range and ample habitat. However, white bears only occur in about 10% of the population of the Kermode subspecies.