One-in-a-Million White Spirit Bear Seen in Michigan: 'Sign of Great Change'

A spirit bear has been spotted in Michigan for the first time. The one-in-a-million white-colored bear is considered a symbol of change for Indigenous peoples. Spirit

bears are a type of black bear, but instead of dark fur they have white or cream-colored fur and nearly white claws. They are not polar bears or albinos; their coloring is down to

a different genetic condition. There are only about 100 spirit bears in the world, according to the North American Bear Center. Most of them live in a couple of islands

along the coast of British Columbia in Canada: Princess Royal and Gribbell islands. On the two islands, spirit bears are relatively common. They make up about 20 percent

of the local population of their subspecies—the Kermode bear—with the rest being black. The North American Bear Center states: "Outside British Columbia only about one in a

million black bears is white." This is because spirit bears' coloration is due to a double recessive gene that only results in white fur if both parents contribute it to their

offspring. In a limited gene pool the chances of this happening are much higher than if the animals are spread across a large area. This month, however, a spirit bear was

spotted on a trail camera in Michigan, almost 1,900 miles from the Canadian islands. The camera had been set up in the state's Upper Peninsula ahead of the annual bear hunting

season. As seen in photos acquired by local news outlet MLive, the bear is almost completely white, with slightly brown fur around its head and neck. It appears to weigh

about 100 pounds.