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Rare white black bear or ‘spirit bear’ caught on trail camera

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An archaeological camera in Michigan captured one of the rarest pictures of the season in September when it spotted a black-and-white bear.

According to a post on the Upper Peninsula’s tour guide Facebook group, the bear was seen rummaging through bait placed by a hunter. Officials with the Department of Natural Resources have not independently confirmed that the large mammal actually has white fur, but based on photos sent to them and other district reports, they are absolutely certain.

“I thought it was pretty cool,” said Cody Norton, a senior carnivore specialist at DNR. “It’s exciting to see an animal surfacing like this here rather than anywhere else. We’ve had some cinnamon phases, some blonde and chocolate on some of the camcorders we use in surveys that are also great to see.”

But these are more common in bear populations. White has something of its own.

The black-and-white bear was seen in the western Upper Peninsula, where bears are common in Michigan.
The black-and-white bear was seen in the western Upper Peninsula, where bears are common in Michigan.
Facebook / Yooper Outdoors #906

Norton’s best guess is that the bear is on the younger side – he’s about two years old.

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It was spotted in the west of the Upper Peninsula, where bears are common in Michigan. It has one thing in common about vision.

Black bears with white fur are not polar or albino bears. Instead, it’s the result of a one-in-a-million chance in which both male and female parents contained a recessive gene for white fur, according to Norton.

When white-furred black bears are born in nature, it occurs almost exclusively in western Canada where a subspecies of the American black bear lives. They are called Kermode bears that reside on a group of islands in the province. Between 10-20% of the population has white fur.

Sometimes people call them spirit bears.

Cody Norton, a senior carnivore specialist, guessed that the bear was two years old.
Cody Norton, a senior carnivore specialist, guessed that the bear was two years old.
Facebook / Yooper Outdoors #906

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