Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spirit Bears and Woolly Mammoths

Don't go down to the woods, today. . .

Mother Grizzly Bear and cubs at coastal Dump*, DGH Collection

In the Great Bear Rainforest, a vast area has been purchased to protect grizzly and black bears from trophy hunting enthusiasts. This purchase also protects the Kermode or spirit bears (black bears with white coats). A bear hunt has been banned this year by coastal First Nations from Haida Gwaii down the central coast of British Columbia. Other parts of the Great Bear Rainforest may not have these restrictions, check online for hiking and guide information.

Credit: The Vancouver Sun, Sept. 17, 2012, Environment, NGO buys bear hunting rights, by Judith Lavoie, Victoria Times Colonist. NGO=Non governmental organizations

Good news for the bears: The Raincoast Conservation Foundation now controls hunting in the heart of spirit bear country. (Size=28,000 sq km + 3500 newly acquired sq km.; measurements from news article)



Spirit Bears

The Kermode bear (kerr-MO-dee), or spirit bear is a subspecies of the American Black Bear. It's noted for one-tenth of their population having white or cream coats. The Kermode bear's range includes the north and central coast of British Columbia and inland toward Hazelton, BC.

A male Kermode bear can weigh 500 lb (225 kg) or more and stands 6 feet tall. Females are slightly smaller, weighing in at about 300 lb (135 kg). Spirit bears, because of their ghost-like appearance, hold a prominent place in the oral stories of the Canadian First Nations and Native American lore.

National Geographic estimates the spirit bear population to be between 400-1000 individual bears. In their information, they suggest "the spirit bear may owe its survival to the protective traditions of the First Nations, who never hunted the animals or spoke of them to fur trappers". Kermode Bear

*This photo shown previously in the post The Right Place - Must have been the Write Time on my Rainforest Writing blog.



Woolly Mammoths

Mammuthus primigenius: The woolly mammoth, or tundra mammoth is the last species of mammoth.

Woolly mammoth remains, which may contain living cells, have been discovered by an international science team in Siberia. Months of research will be needed before findings are conclusive, but what IF soft tissue DNA is found? Will cloning be far behind? These creatures are believed to have died out around 10,000 years ago, although small groups may have survived longer in Alaska and in Siberia.

Whether climatic change or overhunting by humans caused the mammoth's final demise in Earth's past, it's an amazing find for scientists today. I'll be watching for any news about the cloning part. Woolly mammoths were described in Jean Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear series.

Credit: Vancouver Sun, Science section, Sept. 12, 2012; Associated Press; Mammoth remains found in Siberian permafrost raise hopes for cloning.


Have you heard of spirit bears? What about cloning of the DNA of long-dead woolly mammoths? Do you remember Jurassic Park? Please share in the comments.