Ultra-rare white grizzly bear spotted near a tourist resort in Banff National Park in a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’
- A pure white grizzly bear was seen off the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff
- Park workers described white grizzly bears as ‘extremely rare’
- The white coat is caused by a recessive gene that is rare in the wild
An ultra-rare white grizzly bear has been spotted near a tourist resort in Banff National Park, Canada.
Cara Clarkson, a worker at the nearby Rimrock Resort Hotel, saw the bear while driving on the Trans-Canada Highway with her husband and two sons.
The white grizzly was with his brother, a more typically colored brown grizzly while looking for food on the side of the highway.
A maid at a resort in Banff, Canada spotted a white grizzly bear riding her husband and two sons, which she described as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
While Clarkson said she would normally have ridden the bears and not taken the risk of disturbing them, the sight of the white grizzly was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“We were like” holy smoke! It’s packed with a white grizzly bear. “Clarkson said in an interview with St. Albert today.
Grizzly bears are generally available in a wide spectrum of colors, from light blonde to dark black, but a pure white grizzly bear is “extremely rare,” said Parks Canada retired researcher Mike Gibeau.
“I’ve never seen grizzly bears in my time – since the early 1980s – seen a white grizzly bear,” said Gibeau.
“I’ve seen a really, really blonde grizzly, but never a white one.”
Some initially speculated that the bear may have been an albino, but Gibeau said that would have changed the bear’s skin and eye color, too.
Instead, he says the white coat is probably due to a recessive gene in the species that is almost never seen in the wild.
“It is certainly the only one I know of that has been seen in our Rocky Mountain National Park,” Parks Canada’s Seth Cherry told Global News.
Park officials first identified the pair of grizzly bears in 2018, when they were both cubs and the white bear looked more blond than white.
Some initially thought the bear could be an albino, but park researchers say that if it did, the skin and eyes would also lack pigment and be pale pink
According to Parks Canada employees, the white coat is caused by a recessive gene that is almost never seen in the wild. “I’ve never worked with grizzly bears in my time – since the early 1980s – seen a white grizzly bear,” said Mike Gibeau of Parks Canada
At the time, the bears ate near a grain leak near train tracks that ran along the Trans-Canada Highway, about 40 miles north of Rimrock Resort.
Park workers used various hazing techniques to bring the bears deeper into the park and away from areas of higher human populations.
Park officials believe the bears may have returned to the area in search of food and used high snow drifts from heavy winter snow to climb over the large fence that runs along both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway to protect wildlife from traffic.
Park workers believe the bear and his brown-haired brother came to the Trans-Canada Highway in search of food
“This is a one-of-a-kind bear, and I’ve certainly never seen one before, but we’re asking people to understand it’s there and doing things to ensure safety, such as not stopping on the highway,” said Jon Stuart- Smith from Parks Canada.
Stuart-Smith hopes the sightings will be temporary, and once the bears realize there are no major food sources left in the area, they will move.
“We hope they move to other locations and eventually move to higher elevations,” he said.