New study published on Spirit bears

Spirit bear on all fours stands atop a bright green and brown moss covered boulder at the edge of water in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Photo by Cael Cook.

New research has identified that the small genetic change responsible for Spirit bears – a rare, white-coated form of black bears – is up to 50% rarer in the Great Bear Rainforest than previously estimated.

The study also indicates that geographic hotspots, where the Spirit bear version of the gene was especially prominent lack adequate protection from resource extraction.

Given my community’s cultural and economic connection to Spirit bears, it is not an exaggeration to say that our well-being is directly related to the well-being of these bears. It is critical we find avenues to attend to these gaps in protection.

Douglas Neasloss, Resource Stewardship Director for the Kitasoo/Xai’xais Nation and co- author

These findings inform contemporary land use planning, which include the potential for increased protection in the form of Indigenous Protected Areas.

The study by scientists and stewardship practitioners from the Kitasoo/Xai’xais and Gitga’at First Nations, Coastal First Nations, Douglas Neasloss, University of Victoria, Spirit Bear Research and Raincoast Conservation was published today.

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