For many years, the Spirit Bear was considered a legend of the Gitg’at and Kitasoo Native Peoples. Their legends told of a time when the glaciers finally receded, and it was Raven(the great creator) who made everything green. Raven also decided to make one in ten black bears white, to remind him of the time when the world was white with snow and ice. Raven decided to set aside a special area of the world for these bears – now known as the Great Bear Rainforest. It was a remote paradise where the bears were to live in peace forever. The spirit bear also symbolizes peace and harmony. The Spirit Bear, also known as Kermode bear (Ursa Americanus Kermodie) only lives in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rai
nforest. This bear is not related to the polar bear nor is it an albino. It is a Black Bear with a recessive gene that causes about 1 in 10 bears to be white. Families of these bears can consist of both black and white bears. The spirit bear is recognized as a prominent Native American symbol and is designated as the official animal of British Columbia.
The Spirit Bears survived the ice age, but there are estimated to be well less than a thousand left in the world. These low numbers of bears mean that the bear is facing the danger of becoming extinct. While the white “Spirit” bears themselves are protected from hunting, the Black Bears that share their genetic heritage in the same forests are not. And when one of the black bears is killed for a trophy on someone’s wall or floor, the special recessive genes that help create the Raven’s Spirit Bears, dies along with the Black Bear.