My artist friend Deborah Milton and I traveled to the wild British Columbian coast to experience the habitat and life of the mysterious Kermode bear. This subspecies of the black bear can produce creamy white cubs. They’re not albinos; their eyes and skin are dark. They are the official mammal representing the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Joined by a few friends and led by our Ocean Light guide, we slogged our way through the squishy rainforest ground in hip-high rubber boots and sturdy raincoats, visiting rivers and streams in search of this elusive creature. Despite our efforts, we didn’t see any of the white bears themselves. But we got to observe their black cousins flip salmon up from the water and soak up the beautiful rainforest environment.
Scientists have recently studied genetics of these bears–this article in the New York Times features a few photos and some fascinating information.
With our book, young readers ages 7-10 can enjoy Deborah’s evocative watercolor images and learn about the ecology of the Kermode bear and the Great Northern Rainforest where it lives. They’ll read about the interconnectness of the plants and animals sharing the bears’ habitat. For example, salmon swim up streams along the coast to spawn. Bears catch the salmon, which contain nutrients they acquired while growing up at sea. The bears drag the fish into the forest to eat them, leaving leftovers that decay, fertilizing the ground. The bears’ feces and urine also nourish the trees and other plants in the forest. The circle is complete.