2019 spirit bear highlights

I already dedicated an entire post to Ma’ah. She is always a highlight. For many years she was the lone white bear amongst a host of black bears on her favourite salmon creek. Even her last two cubs were black. Then in 2017, something inexplicable happened: someone spotted a different white bear on the same creek.

Introducing Warrior

Unmistakable with a big scar across her nose and a whiter pelage compared with Ma’ah, Warrior walked into the river valley like she owned the place, leaving us all bamboozled and befuddled—where had she been hiding out all this time?

She was back again in 2019 and doing great. We had hoped she might show up with cubs this season, but no such luck. Perhaps she gave birth to cubs and they did not survive? We’ll never know. Like Ma’ah, Warrior has also endeared herself to those in Hartley Bay and beyond—her face is now on an official Canadian stamp.

But Warrior was not the only surprise from back in 2017 that is still with us

Introducing Strawberry

Like Warrior, Strawberry showed up out of the ether two years ago. Often hanging out in the intertidal zone along the shore, this beautiful bear gets her name from her strawberry-blonde fur. More retiring than Warrior or Ma’ah, she is seen on the river less frequently and often keeps her distance, but, surprise, surprise, she had a black cub with her this year–her first to our knowledge. Everybody was scrambling to get a glimpse of this pair. Hopefully, we’ll get to witness many new chapters in Strawberry’s life in years to come.

Warrior and Strawberry may be new on the scene, but Ma’ah is not the only elder white bear in Gitga’at territory.

Step aside Springsteen

The only boss that matters in Gitga’at territory is this Boss. With a disastrous salmon run in his favoured creek last year, Boss made himself scarce and likely spent his time foraging on berries to get by. But in 2019 he was back and he was packing on the pounds with a strong return of fish. After an entire season without seeing him, it was especially nice to watch Boss regularly this year. He’s grown a lot since I first met him in 2008 and his teeth are now getting worn, but the Boss hangs on and he was looking great by the end of the season.

But white bears are not the whole story

Black bears matter too

There is more to all this than white bears. They are simply the icing on the GBR cake. We had extraordinary encounters with black bears this season too, including several cubs, which are always a good bit of fun to watch.

In fact, it is not all about the bears either. Just spending time in the rainforest is enlivening. The bears, wolves, whales, porpoises, sea lions, marten, salmon and the riot of birds and other critters just heighten the magnificence of the place.

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