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!
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