The spirit bear

Spirit-Bear-mother-with-cub

Spirit Bear mother with her cub, 2014
Photo courtesy of River Road Films

The Spirit Bear
Adapted from CBC News by Nancy Carson
Level 3

A creature of legend lives
on the central coast of British Columbia.
This is the only place in the world
where it can be found!
This creature is the Kermode Bear.
It is also called the “Spirit Bear” or “Ghost Bear”.

Raven is an important character in First Nations legends. Photo by

Raven is an important character in First Nations legends.
Photo by Tim Ellis/CC, Flickr

Raven and Spirit Bear
The Spirit Bear was a legend
of the Gitga’at and Kitasoo Native Peoples.
The legend told of a time when
the world was white with ice and snow.
Raven later made everything green.
He decided that one in ten black bears
would have white fur.
The white bears would remind people
of the time of the glaciers.
Raven said these bears
would live in a special place.
They would live in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Map of Great Bear Rainforest  Photo –LivingOceanSociety

Map of Great Bear Rainforest
Photo – LivingOceanSociety

Great Bear Rainforest
The Great Bear Rainforest is an area
of over 74,000 square kilometres.
The forest runs over 400 square kilometres
down Canada’s western coast.
There are many islands and
mountain peaks covered with glaciers.
Many other animals also live in the forest.
Grizzlies, black bears, wolves, wolverines,
humpback whales and orcas all share
this wild, beautiful area.
The rainforest has been home for centuries
to First Nations like the Gitga’at.

Kermode bear/https://flic.kr/p/28w76u/  Photo by .sarahwynne.

Kermode bear
Photo by .sarahwynne./CC,Flickr

Living in the rainforest
In the early 1990’s, the Turner family
lived for two years in the remote area.
Jeff, Sue Turner and their newborn daughter
made a film about this animal of legend.
Their documentary was called
Islands of the Spirit Bear.
The Turners are Canada’s leaders
in the field of documentaries about nature.

Jeff and Sue Turner, filmmakers, with daughter Chelsea in 1993 Photo courtesy of River Road Films

Jeff and Sue Turner, filmmakers, with daughter Chelsea in 1993
Photo courtesy of River Road Films


Kermode bear facts
The Spirit Bear is also called the Kermode Bear.
Frank Kermode was a director
of the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria.
He was one of the first people
to see the white bear.
These bears are omnivores which means
they will eat many different things.
Plants and berries are part of their diets.
But they eat salmon when
the fish are running in the streams.
Fast runners, the bears can reach speeds of 55 kilometres/hour.
Kermode bears can live to be 25 years old.
In British Columbia, it is illegal
to hunt this bear.

Return to the rainforest
Almost 25 years later, the Turners
returned to the area of their first study.
This time, adult daughter Chelsea
and their son Logan are with them.
Jeff Turner says, “our work has truly
become a family affair.”

Early spring
The Turner family arrived
in the early spring.
A mother Spirit Bear had
come out of her den.
She had two black cubs.
Cubs are born in their mother’s winter den
in January or February.
Bears can go without food
for up to seven months during hibernation.

A hibernating Kermode Bear under an old tree trunk https://flic.kr/p/62RgQb/  Photo by Jethro Taylor

A hibernating Kermode Bear under an old tree trunk
Photo by Jethro Taylor/CC, Flickr

The Turners followed the bear family
through the spring and summer.
The mother bear allowed Jeff Turner
to get close to her and her cubs.

Spirit Bear Family
“The Spirit Bear is very special to us,”
says filmmaker Jeff Turner.
Chelsea Turner has followed her parents
and become a filmmaker, too.
Spirit Bear Family is the Turners’ new film.

Black bear mother with her rare Kermode cub Photo by beingmyself

Black bear mother with her rare Kermode cub
Photo by beingmyself/CC, Flickr

Links:

1. Spirit Bear Facts

2. Secrets of the Great Bear Forest

3. Islands of the Spirit Bear

4. Spirit Bear hibernating

5. Bears are my neighbours by Chelsea Turner

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