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Caught on camera: The elusive Spirit Bear, or Kermode Bear, after hibernation Add to ...

The type of black bear native to northwestern B.C. forests was spotted on the Nisga’a Highway Thursday

Tourists visiting northwestern B.C. can shell out thousands for guided bear-viewing tours with no guarantee of seeing a Spirit Bear. Globe and Mail staff photographer John Lehmann was fortunate enough to spot one while driving on the Nisga’a highway.

While on assignment in the region this week, Mr. Lehmann spotted the bear from his car, stopped and snapped the photo below. It was a stroke of luck since the Spirit Bear, also known as the Kermode Bear, is unique to the Great Bear Rainforest – and only about 10 per cent of the population of this black bear subspecies has the recessive gene that results in white fur.

The middle of May sees bear-watching season come alive, so it’s possible Mr. Lehmann won’t be the only one to take a shot of this particular bear this year.

Words by Mason Wright

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Follow on Twitter: @johnlehmann