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Mon Sep 14, 2020, 08:38 AM

Long kept secret, Canada's ghostly spirit bears are even rarer than thought





Long kept secret, Canada's ghostly spirit bears are even rarer than thought
Adept at catching salmon because they blend into the daylight, the white bears are small in number – yet First Nations are stepping in to help


(Guardian UK) When Marven Robinson was a kid, any mention of spirit bears was met with hushed dismissal from the elders in his community, the Gitga’at First Nation of Hartley Bay, British Columbia. Since the 19th century, Indigenous peoples in the area learned to keep the bears with ghostly coats a secret to protect them from fur traders.

As the ancient legend goes, the Wee’get (meaning the “raven,” known as the creator of the world) turned every 10th black bear white to remind people of the pristine conditions of the Ice Age.

Spirit bears are white-coated black bears that inherit their pale fur from a rare recessive gene. Known as moksgm’ol, meaning “white bear”, spirit bears are sacred to the Indigenous people who live in the Great Bear Rainforest, a 6.4m-hectare swath of land in central and northern British Columbia.

Despite growing public interest in the bruins, scientific understanding of them is still nascent. But a recent collaborative study by the Kitasoo/Xai’xais and Gitga’at First Nations and academic researchers has revealed that the white bear is rarer and more vulnerable than previously thought. ...............(more)

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/14/canada-indigenous-people-protect-spirit-bears




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