I think the Kermode's of B.C. are protected. The kermode is unique light colored black bear. Alaska's version is the Glacier Bear, though tend to be more of a blue-gray color. Those are distributed widely enough (and numerous enough) for hunting. Most glacier bear hunts do take place in the St. Elias range near Yakutat, though. No one is quite sure what the "white" bear seen in second post of this thread is. Some figure it is a glacier or kermode bear. It is a black bear, but a very odd color. This bear was photographed around Juneau, AK this fall. ADF&G did put a ban on hunting this one particular animal.
In 2001, while working for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, I was assigned to do a fish count in a river that between town and a First Nations Village. Because of the proximity to human habitation and the local kids using the area around the river as a play ground, I choose not to take a firearm, pepper spray and a flare gun were my only defense. I took my 16 foot RIB (rigidhull inflatable boat) up the river from the ocean about 90 minute before high tide. Beached the boat then hiked up the river. The plan was to get back to the boat in two and a half hours and ride out on the falling tide. You guessed it, I was late getting back to find the last of the water leaving the boat. So the boat was not going anywhere until the next high tide in about ten hours. Out of concern of theif and vandalism I choose to stay with the boat. The last half of my wait was going to be in the dark. During the afternoon I had several human visitors stop by for a chat. About an hour before sunset I hear the sound of someone approaching about 30 yard down stream. Fiquring it was more of the locals I did not pay any attention to them as I continued to count fish. Finally the approaching sound are on the other side of the boat from where I was watching the water. I turned to find a 2.5 year old Blackbear boar about to put his front paws on the side of the boat. Being used to being around black bears in close proximity I was not TOO concerned. The bear being habituated to humans, the kids were forever yelling at the bears and thowing stick and stone at them, he was not TOO concerned about me. He settled down on all fours while he tried to get wind of me. He was unphased by my hollering at him nor by my flapping my wings to drive him off. He finally jumped back and ran off when I rocked the boat on it's keel. Sixteen feet of bouncing rubber was more then he wanted to face at the moment. About twenty minutes latter from about 50 yard down stream, I hear the sound of approach again. This time I watch to see who is visiting this time. This big black snout comes out from under the overhanging willow, closely followed by a large sparkling eye, (those that have been here know the one). This glinting eye preceeded two furry ears somewhat larger then the ones I had seen a few minutes earlier. Right then the big bruin caught my scent, he never even saw me, as he went thundering over the round river rock on his escape route down stream. After the big boy departed, with the hope of having scaly visitors swim by for the rest of the evening, I dug into my provision of granola bars. As day light disappeared from the surrounding firs and cedars, I heard sound of a bear fishing up stream of me. Over the next twenty minutes the bear worked down stream to my high and dry boat. She was about half way in size between the earlier young lad and the big bruiser. When she gets about forty feet from me she sees the boat with me sitting in it, camera ready. As she looks at me I snap a picture, one to get the shot and two hoping the flash would startle her off. Well you know how some women light up for a camera, she starts putting on a show chasing fish around in the shallows. When she was about thirty feet away, I snapped another picture. On she went chasing fish. Because of the speed that she was darting around I was concerned that she would faint away then thurn on me and the boat, so I tried the old flap the wings and hollering trick, she stops, gives me the 'what's with you buddy' look then back to chasing the fish. As I had already seen the show once or twice in the past few weeks and she wasn't much of a looker, I decided to put and end to the antics. The 16 feet of bounceing rubber was more then she could handle at the close distance so down stream she ambled to the pool below. I guess she did not like my lack of deoderant and the last shower a faded memory. Five minute latter she headed for the village. After counting about 8 satelites pass overhead, I hear rocks tumbling in the river above me. When the sound is a boat length away, I turn on the large SCUBA diving light on. There in the middle of the river is the young bear back again trying to get my scent. He knows the gig is up but curiousity has got him. He zig zags up to the side of the boat as I get the safety off the pepper spray and get the camera ready. He extended his nose to touch the rubber tubes of the boat. Enough for me, so I rock the boat and off he runs again down stream. Over the next forty five minutes he climbs the left bank, works his way along the fence for the municipal maintainace yard above me and up stream of me but still up on the bank. When the tide went out, my boat settled at the end of an eight inch diameter tree trunk that had fallen into the river.
The little bruin (we are still on friendly turns at this point) makes his way up onto the trunk to try a sneak approach down the trunk. It was too dark to see black against black but I Knew what he was up to as he broke a twig as he mounted the trunk. From the root to the boat was about twenty feet. There is about a six foot high free span under the log. When the bear reaches this part of the trunk, he slips. I can hear him clawing at the bark trying to regain his balance. He whines like the youngster he is as he looses his grip and firmly plops on the river rock below. He does not even shake himself off as he runs across the river, up the far bank and the sound of his retreat disappears amongst the houses of the village. I was hoping this would be the end of the bears for the evening now turned to night. Not so, hunger finally brought the female back to the pool below me. She fished for about half an hour, got her fill and left. She had pretty good luck because the tidal waters had carried sea water back to the pool. As the fish moved they left streamers of bio-luminescence. It was a wonderful display of minuture fireworks underwater. After she left, I watched the tide slowing creep up river to my boat. You all know the feeling you get when you know something is not as it should be. You have the sense that someone is with you but you do not know for sure. The hair on the back of your neck fights agains your shirt collar to stand on end. When my guardian angel on my shoulder is jumping up and down screaming enough that I wake up to the feeling, I realize that the little bear is back on the tree trunk behind the boat. I slowly cock the hammer on the flaregun, ready to give the furry bugger (we are no longer on friendly terms) a taste of phosphorus from a twelve gauge flare. I also pick up the camera for one last snap shot. As the flash goes off, I see that the bear has his nose at the propellor of the 90 HP Yamaha outboard. With a quick prayer to the Lord above that the motor lives up to it's excellent reputation, I reach for the key, turn it, in answer to my prayer, the engine barks to life with it's through the prop exhaust blast right up the nose of the pessky black bear. He steps back and with the dexterity and grace of an eleven year old balance beam gymnaste turns and slowly walks back up the log to the bank. Within about ten minutes the rising water lift my boat from it's perch to carry me back out to sea. As I enjoy the firework below as the fish move out of the way, I ponder how bold this bear was, how tired I was and that it was very likely that I would have fallen asleep before he came back. I do not think that he was looking for a warm place to curl up for the night.
When I related this story to the Conservation Officer and to the Instructor on my Bear Encounter Survival Course and to my colleages, they all said the bear was stocking me. I never felt threatened. I had the sense that he was more curious then anything else. I knew I was in danger but never felt the fear that I should have had. No sense, no feeling?
Only a couple of shot turned out. One of the female and th last one of the young male on the log with his nose moving to the propellor. I will get the wife to scan them on Monday and I will post them Monday evening.
GOD BE WITH YOU ALL AS YOU CELEBRATE THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.
Very interesting story. Bears do odd things sometimes and are such a blast to have around. I've had them to come into a an LZ we've cleared for helicopter and sit down with me and the crew. Now we don't cut large LZ's, just big enough for a A-Star or Bell to fit into.
I've seen them here at my house play with rocks and snowballs for seems like hours on end without losing interest. I've watched them scale incredibly steep snow covered ridges, just to get to the top and slide down.
Unfortunately, I've had them to turn on me for no apparent reason other than we shared the same acre of space. They are curious animals and it is never boring working in bear country.
Looking forward to seeing the pictures when you get them scanned.
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