First, the above site belongs to Stephanie & Harreson Waymen of Rosswood BC. This is a story of luck and good management and as usual some incredible coincidences. The latter is that the Waymen's live on part of the old homestead subdivided years ago by none other that Grandma Tess, a long term friend and of course the authors of our White Spirit Bear book. The coincidence is that Harreson was out patrolling his property line when he falls into a bear den -- a white spirit bear den. The good management is that between them they have pieced together and got out to the world a streaming video of this hibernating bear. All quite marvelous.
When I spoke with Stephanie a bit ago I realized they have been following this bear the past three years during its summers in their valley. Hopefully Richard will be able to facilitate them in getting more bandwidth etc. More as that develops.
Spirit Bear Background:
White Spirit bears are one of British Columbia's magical creatures. It is also our Provincial Mammal. My fascination with them goes back to the late 1950's when graduating from high school I decided I wanted to pursue a career of either being a biologist or a wildlife photographer. At that time the person travelling the country and exciting people on conservation values was Al Oeming, biologist, filmmaker and owner of the Alberta Game Farm (later called Polar Park). AL was also a falconer who had unlimited access to migrating gos hawks -- the 'hawkers hawk". At that time I was a falconer/hawker and had unlimited access to trapping peregrine falcons - his favored bird. We exchanged birds and I followed his travelling shows which showed a marvelous insight into North American Wildlife. He awoke the public in ways I have always admired.
By the time I had gone through the internal debates and years of getting my commercial pilots license and then decided to become a biologist it was again Al Oeming who largely set my path. I had attended many of his film-lectures during those years and continued to do so through undergraduate and graduate school. In fact during the period of setting up my graduate study areas on eagles Al had offered some support to my field work if I would undertake catching him some white Kermode bears. So Princess Royal Island, the then center of Kermode sightings (( and Sasquatch sightings!)) , become my northern bald eagle study area. Al shipped by train 6 large culvert traps to Prince Rupert and I went up their, contracted a fish boat, a barge and some workers and hauled the traps to the Islands. This of course is long before the Islands became the center of the Great Bear Rain Forest Reserve.
To make a long story short, I trapped 37 Kermode bears -- but all were of the "black variety" and technically not white spirit bears. But in all likelihood, all or most, probably carried the "white recessive gene". Oeming's hope was to trap and breed up a population of white bears before the rare recessive gene was wiped out by trophy hunters wanting this unique bear for their living rooms. Fortunately, due to closed hunting by our Province, the white bear has expanded in numbers and range in recent years.
I never saw a single "white" bear during the trapping or the subsequent seasons of working the area. In fact I have sent several people up to the area to photograph these spectacular animals but I have never seen one myself. Some of the photos attached to our site come from photographer Steven Kazlowski who took my suggestions, with suggestions to me by Wayne McCrory, and got marvelous photographs -- but not me!! I still have yet to even see a Kermode even thought I published the marvelous book by Grandma Tess White Spirit Bear and several books by Keith Scott -- The Bear Man below. In fact I would like to think Tess's book played a small role in setting the scene for the establishment of the Great Bear Rainforest -- an incredible "1st Step" in developing a cooperative effort between 1st Nations, conservation organizations, competing industries and government, to save the white spirit bear and its surrounding rain forest for future generations. I have missed several white bears along the Stewart -- Meziadin Highway by 10 minutes. Maybe I was just meant to help bring other people to Spirit Bears!
My long time friend and biologist Wayne McCrory who has extensively studied the spirit bears, published a major book on them and made fine contributions to our book and he is also been working to establish the long-term sustainable businesses in the region based on eco-tourism and sustainable use of the resources. The other major book on spirit bears was done by Charlie Russell. Again what a come-around and small world, for it was his conservationist-filmmaker dad who introduced me to the Jubilee Auditorium audience in Calgary when I appeared their with my film Pacific Wilderness so long ago. Now of course some new players. Marvin Robinson of the Harley Bay First Nations is a leading guide and promoter of protecting the white bears and he is our HWF contact in establishing cams in the area. And of course Ian McCallister, world class nature photographer, is resident in Bella Bella and working on the local wolves, cougars, white bears and more. As I write this our Richard Pitt and Ken Cillis are in Bella Bella with him to assist them in getting cams onto the web.
So my point -- I have had more than a 50 year fascination with these magical white spirit bears -- and we hope that this wintering hibernating web cam, found by the Waymens' who I have yet to meet, can further stimulate public interest to bring protection to this area and its absolutely unique wildlife.
The recent note I posted on the "Rainbow Bear" is simply about another color variant of the white spirit bear and ironically was photographed very near this Waymen den with the web cam. Interestingly, these northern most of the spirit bears records suggest that the bear will likely show up a few miles north in Alaska very soon. If so I hope that Keith gets the first records as no one spends more time with bears than Keith -- as you will understand if you read some of his books and adventures.
If some of you are planning a trip north this year I suggest you include driving to this exciting part of BC -- from the incredible collection of Tsimshian villages along the Skeena and Nass Rivers, the area of this den, and the bear watching facilities at Hyder Alaska, take the 10 minute drive from Stewart BC you get to see some of the most spectacular glaciers in BC or Alaska. Of course the best viewing of black and grizzley bears in the world is at Tongass National Forest Fish Creek viewing stand in Hyder Alaska. Ten more miles up the road and back into Canada is the Salmon Glacier. This has drawn me a great many of the years since I first went there in 1963. And all this is 'car accessible'! from Terrace, Burns Lake or Prince Rupert - if you want to fly in and get a rental car. If you are going on an Alaskan Cruse you could fly in to Hyder from Ketchikan. By the way I gather quite a number of you are coming on the Diamond Princess during my May 15 - June 19 and July 31 -- Aug 15 lecture tours -- look forward to meeting you.
We hope you will enjoy the Forums and our reference files to follow -- and please check out some of the following web sites as they contain great insite into this region and particularly the white spirit bears.
HWF: books on White Spirit Bears;
Other information Web Sites;
Marvin Robinson: Gitga'at First Nations Develpment Assoc. Harley Bay:
Ian McCallister: Pacific Wild Foundation
Hancock Wildlife Foundation