This month (September 2022), an approximately 100-pound male black bear with blonde fur appeared on a trail camera in the western Upper Peninsula. It has a nearly all-white coat, save for some cinnamon coloring on the back of its head and neck. This makes the bear a Kermode bear, otherwise known as a spirit bear.
Kermode bears are most commonly found living on islands along the Pacific Coastline of British Columbia. This is only the fifth time a spirit bear has been confirmed outside of British Columbia, which makes this Michigan mammal a one-in-a-million bear genetically, according to the nonprofit North American Bear Center.
The confirmation of a Kermode bear in Michigan is an incredible discovery for wildlife science, according to bear researcher Lynn Rogers of the Wildlife Research Institute. “So, there are a few genes in this area,” he said. “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.”
Unfortunately, state wildlife experts have not been able to track the bear since its discovery, as they have been busy with the ongoing bear hunting season.