The Kermode or Spirit Bear (Ursus americanus kermodei) is a rare subspecies of the Black Bear. Estimates place the Spirit Bear population between 400 and 1000, although the general consensus would appear to be 400 or fewer. Spirit Bears are only found in British Columbia, Canada's Great Bear Rainforest and nearby areas.
Prior to 2006, clearcut logging was allowed throughout Great Bear. In 2006, roughly a half million acres of Spirit Bear habitat was protected, thanks to the efforts of local First Nations, Valhalla Wilderness Society, Spirit Bear Youth Coalition and others. Also that year, the Spirit Bear was designated the official mammal of B.C. However to date, the Spirit Bear has not even received a blue or "threatened" listing under the provincial wildlife act, given its low numbers. Approximately 1 in every 10 Black Bears in Great Bear Rainforest are born white, with that number being somewhat higher on Princess Royal and Gribbell Islands - which have the highest concentration of Spirit Bears.
Trophy hunting of bears had also threatened the Kermode population. However, recently coastal First Nations imposed their own ban on trophy hunting in Great Bear Rainforest. The Raincoast Conservation Foundation also purchased several hunting licenses to stop the hunting in much of Great Bear Rainforest.
In order to preserve the Spirit Bear for the long term, the following points need to be considered by the BC government:
Completion of plans from 2006 to formalize the Spirit Bear conservancy.
BC government-mandated ban on all trophy hunting in Great Bear Rainforest.
Full rejection of the Northern Gateway pipeline and oil tanker traffic in Great Bear Rainforest - as the BC government indicated on May 31, 2013.
Give the Spirit Bear a blue (threatened) or red (endangered) listing under the provincial wildlife act in BC.
Let's make sure that one of the most unique animals and most bio-diverse ecosystems in the world remains for future generations to enjoy!
- BC Minister - Forests, Lands and Natural Resources Operations
We the undersigned ask you to please "List the Spirit Bear Under BC's Provincial Wildlife Act!" We are aware that at the present time subspecies are not eligible for listing under the BC Wildlife Act. However, Canada's federal Species at Risk Act does include several subspecies that are either endangered, threatened or of special concern. What we are asking is that the Provincial Wildlife Act be amended to allow for the listing of subspecies, including the Spirit Bear - a rare white subspecies of the Black Bear.
The Spirit Bear has been BC's provincial mammal since 2006. However, much of its' home territory - the Great Bear Rainforest is still under threat from logging. Further, we ask the BC government to hold firm on their recently declared opposition to the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to Kitimat and the related oil tanker traffic through Great Bear Rainforest.
There are fewer than 400 of these magnificent animals left. Please, do the right thing and give them the appropriate protection they absolutely deserve.
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