Bear kermode, the spirit of the forest
The bear kermode is an animal that has been revered for generations by the native communities of North America . Its almost magical character was granted thanks to the color of its fur.
The white of its fur makes it a very unusual appearance in the rainforests . Thus, this color is the external representation of a recessive genetic trait. Also called moksgm'ol , the bear kermode inhabits the forests of British Columbia.
In truth, the spirit bears are not a species in themselves. The kermode bear is exactly like a black bear, with a genetic difference that modifies the color of its skin and its hair.
However, the moksgm'ol are not albino bears. Their fur is completely white, from the root to the tip. Despite this, their noses and eyes are dark, as are all other black bears.
The kermode bears are not very common animals within black bear communities The genetic trait that allows its unique coloration is recessive in individuals of the species of black bears.
Not all black bears are carriers of the recessive gene with white fur . However, if both black parents possess the recessive gene, they may have a baby moksgm'ol. Thus, it is not necessary for one of the parents to be a kermode bear to have a baby kermode.
According to expert animal genealogists, the bear kermode is a mutation of the black bear that has existed for centuries . However, the explorers of their habitat only reported them in the early s. XX. This is due to the zeal with which the American Indian communities keep the secret of their existence.
Distribution and habitat of the bear kermode
Over the years, diverse groups of ethnologists and zoologists have studied the fauna of British Columbia through the oral tradition of its native peoples . Thus, they have managed to know that the moksgm'ol has lived in the same areas for several centuries.
This discovery has been confirmed by experts analyzing the genetic content of the spirit bears . According to the results, it has been determined that the kermodes lived in isolated areas free of ice during the ice ages .
Precisely because of this isolation, the total number of the bear population has been kept under control. This, in addition to the advantage that gives its clear color when hunting salmon, has allowed the number of bears kermode remain high with respect to the population of black bears.
The moksgm'ol lives mainly in the Great Bear Forest, a space protected by the Government of Canada . On Princess Royal Island about 25% of the total population of black bears present the genetic mutation kermode.
Like all black bears, in the autumn the bear kermode digs a lair to remain during the winter . The choice of the exact place to dig lasts several weeks. The choice is delicate, because it will be the place where a bear kermode will stay for more than four months.
Feeding the spirit bear
Like the black bears, a bear kermode It feeds mainly on salmon. Even so, these bears are omnivorous and consume foods of animal and vegetable origin.In addition, a kermode feeds on insects, moose, deer and salmon, when it is a season.
Salmon consumption is very important during the weeks leading up to the hibernation period . Eating salmon allows the bear to accumulate enough fat and energy to survive the harsh winter.
Unlike black bears, the bear kermode has a clear advantage when hunting salmon . The salmon try to avoid obscure obstacles on their way into the river. Thus, the white coat of the spirit bear allows it to get closer to its prey, which puts it in a more favorable position.
The bear kermode is not different in behavior to the black bear However, it represents a very important symbol for the original cultures of the area.
In a joint effort between non-governmental organizations, governmental institutions and nearby communities, the bears of British Columbia are increasingly protected. Even so, it is important that conservation projects continue to reach more species.