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One-in-a-million white 'spirit bear' captured on trail camera

One-in-a-million white 'spirit bear' captured on trail camera

Wildlife officials said this was the first time ever the bear had been spotted in Michigan.

A one-in-a-million bear with white fur, otherwise known as the ‘spirit bear’, has been spotted in Michigan

Bear with me, no lit-er-ally.

While it may look like a polar bear at first glance, a photo of the 100-pound black bear was captured by a hiker (who wishes to remain anonymous) while walking a wildlife trail in the western Upper Peninsula, according to M Live.

Wildlife officials had said this was the first time the bear had been found in Michigan as these mammals are known to mostly pop up in British Columbia in Canada, making the sighting even more particular. 

M Live also noted that this is the fifth time the white bear had been discovered outside the British Columbia region.

Unlike albino creatures, black bears with white fur are caused by a one-in-a-million chance where both the bear's parents breed and create a recessive gene for white fur.

Renowned bear researcher Lynn Rogers of the Wildlife Research Institute in Minnesota told the outlet: “So, there are a few genes in this area. 

“It’s a double-recessive gene. And if there are fewer of those genes here, it’s going to be rare that you get a double-recessive combination.”

Carnivore specialist with the Department of Natural Resources in Michigan Cody Norton also said while bears of different hues have been discovered in the area, the recent sighting marked a scientific wildlife breakthrough.

While speaking with Fox 2 Detroit, he said: "It's just exciting seeing an animal pop up like this here instead of somewhere else. We've had some cinnamon colour phases show up, some blonde and chocolate on some trail cameras we use for surveys which is also really cool to see.

"But those are more common in bear populations. White is its own thing."

Wildlife officials are keeping their eyes peeled for the elusive bear to protect it from poachers during hunting season, which ends on October 14.

According to The Guardian, Indigenous people have kept white bears a secret since the 19th century to prevent fur traders from getting a hold of them.

imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

Spirit or Kermode bears are sacred to the Indigenous people, especially those who live in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia.

While it was estimated that around 100-500 white bears remain, Gitga’at First Nations and academic scientists estimated that spirit bears are 50 per cent more rare than we initially thought.

As a result, the Gitga'at First Nations and Kitasoo/Xai'xais successfully banned hunting for black bears in their regions in the Great Bear Rainforest earlier this year to protect the rare creature, as per Rain Coast.

Featured Image Credit: M Live/Yooper Outdoors #906/Facebook.

Topics: News, World News, Animals