National Geographic: Land of the Spirit Bear

August 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands July 26.

National Geographic magazine, in its new August issue available on newsstands July 26, published a beautiful feature on BC’s iconic Kermode Bear.

See below for an excerpt and a series of stunning photos from the article, taken by Paul Nicklen.

Neither albino nor polar bear, the spirit bear (also known as the Kermode bear) is a white variant of the North American black bear, and it’s found almost exclusively here in the Great Bear Rainforest. At 25,000 square miles—one and a half times as big as Switzerland—the region runs 250 miles down Canada’s western coast and encompasses a vast network of mist-shrouded fjords, densely forested islands, and glacier-capped mountains. Grizzlies, black bears, wolves, wolverines, humpback whales, and orcas thrive along a coast that has been home to First Nations like the Gitga’at for hundreds of generations. It’s a spooky, wild, mysterious place: There are wolves here that fish. Deer that swim. Western red cedar trees that have stood a thousand years or more. And a black bear that is white…..

Read the full article

With a population of 400 to as many as a thousand, the spirit bear may owe its survival to the protective traditions of the First Nations, who never hunted the animals or spoke of them to fur trappers. ©Paul Nicklen/National Geographic

In a forest dominated by second-growth trees, a young bear settles into a mossy day bed at the foot of a giant, old-growth western red cedar. Bears use such day beds to rest and sleep after a meal. ©Paul Nicklen/National Geographic

Two adult males tussle over a prime fishing spot in a river. "Bear scraps are rare events," says Doug Neasloss, a Kitasoo/Xai'xais wildlife guide. "There's a high potential for injury, so they avoid conflict if they can." ©Paul Nicklen/National Geographic

 

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