The cream-coloured bear can be seen running off into the forest in the left portion of the photo. (Alexandra Buhr photo)

Spirit bear possibly spotted in West Kootenay

A local resident spotted the white-coloured bear while on an evening trail run near Castlegar on May 27

When Castlegar resident Alexandra Buhr was on an evening trail run about three kilometres up the McPhee Forest Service Road on Wednesday, she thought she just saw a normal black bear and two cubs running away from her off the side of the road.

But upon second glimpse, she realized that one of the cubs wasn’t just another normal bear.

Buhr saw that one of the cubs had a white-coloured coat, which is a common characteristic of many Kermode bears typically found along the coast of northwestern British Columbia.

“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the white coat. I really took me a while to realize what it was,” said Buhr.

“It was such a once-and-a-lifetime sight.”

Even though Buhr had seen plenty of bear previously as an forest technician and avid trail runner, she said nothing had compared close to her most recent encounter.

Buhr said the moment between her and the bears was peaceful.

“I was a pretty good distance away from them when we saw each other. I had the feeling that they understood me and I understood them,” said Buhr.

“They knew I wasn’t going to get any closer to them. They had the entire the forest and mountain to run off to.”

Buhr said she waited to see if the bears would come back to snap a better photo, but they never returned.

An Ootischenia resident also saw a similar coloured bear on May 27 in the area, according to Buhr.

Castlegar conservation officer Blair Thin said if the bear was a Kermode bear, it would be one of the first sightings ever in the Kootenays.

“From what I can recall, our conservation office has never received reports of a Kermode bear sighting or complaint,” said Thin.

“That is at least in the nine years that I’ve worked in the Kootenays.”

After reviewing Buhr’s photo, Thin said he thinks the cub is just a black bear with a blonder coat.

Despite his thoughts, Thin said there’s always a small possibility that it was a Kermode bear.

The Kermode bear’s white coat is caused by a recessive gene found in a current subspecies of black bears, according to Buhr.

READ MORE: New licence plates announced to showcase B.C. parks


@connortrembley
connor.trembley@castlegarnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

bears

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Speed limit on Nanaimo’s Georgia Avenue will be lowered to 30km/h

Lower speed limit, traffic calming part of a package of roadway reallocation measures

Overdose advisory issued in Nanaimo

Island Health warns of increase in overdoses from opioids and stimulants

City building cycle lane on Departure Bay Road, walking lane on Boxwood

Nanaimo council approves three active transportation projects totalling $170,000

UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP looking for suspects behind suspicious Bastion fire

Two people seen in the area where the fire broke out Monday

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

Most Read