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See unique white bear cub spotted in Whistler, B.C.


Leeanna McLean
Digital Reporter

Sunday, June 12, 2016, 8:44 PM - The recent discovery of a white bear cub in Whistler, B.C. has baffled biologists.

It is the first time bear expert Michael Allen has ever seen a cub with such light fur in his 23 years of research.

"I have seen cubs ranging [from] black, reddish-brown, chocolate-brown to blonde (after summer bleaching of coat) but, never have [I] seen in this population, a cub with pelage this light to almost white," he wrote earlier this week in an entry posted to his daily bear viewing report.


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Experts are trying to determine if the cub, which is presumably five months old, is albino or a Kermode bear. Otherwise known as a "spirit bear," a Kermode is a subspecies of the American black bear that lives in the central and north coast regions of British Columbia. It seems most think the cub is albino, due to the fact the bear does not have a black nose or pigmentation.

Biologists want to view photos of the cub's eyes. If they are a pink-blue colour, it means the bear is albino.

The rare cub was spotted by tour guide Kathy Jenkins. Meanwhile, environmental planning manager for Whistler-Blackcomb Arthur De Jong, says he saw the white bear frolicking with its black mother last Thursday, several days after Jenkins first discovered the animal.

De Jong managed to capture a few photos of the cub. Bear cubs have a 50 per cent chance of survival in their first year of life and because of this, De Jong is concerned.

"The bears are going into mating season and that's when the cubs are at a very high risk because the males potentially kill the cubs and that'll force the mother to make some adjustments in their patterns of movement," De Jong told CBC.

De Jong also fears the bear could become habituated to humans.

"The fear mechanism that allows them to survive would be broken and he would likely not live long," he said. "If they're really close to people it means they're into garbage. Our waste has so much more fat content compared to their natural food supply that it's like crack. They get it and it's imprinted and then the fear mechanisms break down."

Officials are urging people in the area to avoid trying to locate the cub.

"We really advise against any intent to find and approach this bear," conservation officer Simon Gravel told CBC. "It would be disrespectful for the bear and contribute toward a potential conflict situation. That's what we want to avoid at all price."

SOURCE: CBC

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