The Kermode bear, also known as the spirit bear, is a rare subspecies of the American black bear living in the Central and North Coast regions of British Columbia, Can
While most Kermode bears are black, there are between 100 and 500 fully white individuals
White Kermode bears are not albinos as they still have pigmented skin and eyes. Rather, a single, non-synonymous nucleotide substitution in the MC1R gene causes melanin to not be produced.
This mutant gene is recessive, so Kermode bears with two copies of this mutant, nonfunctional gene appear white, while bears with one copy or no copies appear black it is possible for two black bears to mate and produce a white cub if both of these black bears are heterozygous, carrying one copy of the mutant MC1R gene, and both mutant genes are inherited by the cub.
Kermode bears are omnivorous for most of the year, subsisting mainly on herbage and berries except during autumn salmon migrations, when they become obligate predators.
During the day, white bears are 35% more successful than black bears in capturing salmon. Scientists have also found that salmon evade large, black models about twice as frequently as they evade large white models, giving white bears an advantage in salmon hunting.
The white fur of the bear is harder to spot under water by fish than black fur is, so the bear can catch fish easier.
On some islands, white Kermode bears have more marine derived nutrients in their fur, indicating that white Kermode bears eat more salmon than the black Kermode bears.
Although the Kermode bear is not listed as an endangered species, there have been considerable conservation efforts to maintain the rare subspecies' population due to the bear's cultural significance. The main threats to the bear include habitat destruction due to oil pipelines and trophy hunting of black bears.
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