Every year, hunters in Michigan will vie to get their black bear tags from the state, and roam out into the wilderness to bring back a trophy.

This year, though, hunters in the U.P. will face a new foe that hasn't been sighted in Michigan for a long time - the recently-sited "Spirit Bear" - a blonde-colored Black Bear that is rarely seen outside of British Columbia, Canada. But can hunters... or maybe even... SHOULD hunters go after this rare sight?

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What Is A Spirit Bear

To set the record straight, NO, these white bears are not albino black bears, and they don't have any known, direct genetic connection to polar bears... aside from the fact that they're white.

Their official name is the Kermode Bear (Ursus Americanus Kermodei,) and are a sub-species of the North American Black Bear. Their light-colored fur is the result of a recessive gene.

Primarily, they're only seen in the Great Bear Rainforest on British Columbia's north and central coasts in Canada, and are VERY rare. Only about 400 are estimated to live in the wild, and hardly ever seen outside their Canadian home.

Where does the "Spirit" come from?

The website Indians.org offers up a pretty comprehensive understanding about Native Tribes, and how they respect the bears.

"According to one of many Native American Stories, the spirit bear was made white by the creator of the universe to remind its people the past period of time known as the ice age. It was said that the creator did this to remind the native people of the previous hardship living in all the snow and ice. In addition, in some tribes, the white spirit bear stands for harmony and peace."

Can you (should you) Hunt the Spirit Bear?

In Canada, specifically in British Columbia where they're a native species, there are protections in place. Parts of the United States closer to British Columbia, including Alaska also have some restrictions for bear hunting, particularly regarding the Spirit Bears.

But in Michigan, there are no regulations. If you are awarded a bear tag in the state's lottery draw system, that tag will be for a black bear, which the Spirit Bear technically is.

The question becomes, really, if you're a bear hunter in Michigan, and you see the rare white bear... SHOULD you take it as a trophy?

Given the rarity of the bear in the wild, you'd think some morality would kick in. But the want, and need of some hunters to have the rarest finds in their collection of trophies is sometimes a temptation hard to ignore.

Different people have different views on the topic, so it really comes down to the individual... would YOU take the bear, or simply take it's picture if given the opportunity?

Michigan Hunters

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