Hunters Sound Off on Killing of Extremely Rare Michigan ‘Spirit Bear’

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Earlier this month, trail cam footage captured an extremely rare sight as a spirit bear—a black bear boasting an all-white coat—was seen feeding at a bait pile in Michigan. The MI spirit bear sighting marks the first ever recorded in the Midwestern state. But, sadly, days later, the unique creature reportedly died, resulting in an online uproar. Now, a week later, hunters and outdoorsmen have begun sounding off about the killing of the bear. However, they’ve more specifically begun arguing the ethics of its death.

Commenting on a post in the Yooper Outdoors #906 Facebook group, one individual said, “That would make an awesome mount or rug.” After initial backlash, they continued, “If a person wants to use the tag they purchase on a legal animal then they can, they do not need your permission.”

Other wildlife enthusiasts felt drastically differently about the spirit bear’s reported death.

“I’m all about bear hunting,” one Facebook user wrote. Still, they added, “but I really hope fellow hunters can see the beauty in this rare beauty and let him go.”

A third commenter stood somewhere in the middle of the argument, writing, “Let him grow! That would be a beautiful mount in a few more years!”

One other participant added, “Not everything magnificent needs to be taken as a trophy.”

Aside from ethics, hunters also highlighted any potential legal repercussions for killing the spirit bear.

According to Newsweek, there are zero protection efforts in place that keep white black bears safe from hunters. And with hunting season ending October 26th, we still have weeks until a MI hunter potentially bags a spirit bear.

Wildlife Professionals Discuss Likelihood of Spirit Bear’s Death By Wolves

As hunters across MI continue to ponder the ethics behind the spirit bear’s killing, some accounts state the rare black bear is already dead. Many believe the bear slain by a local wolf pack.

Per the news outlet, reports of the animal’s death came last week. The trail cam’s owner reported finding pieces of long, white fur near where the bear had originally been eating. And it hasn’t appeared in any footage since.

Cody Norton, though— a wildlife biologist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources—believes it unlikely that wolves killed the bear. Typically, wolves do not attack bears. Instead, Norton believes it’s much likelier that the little bruin—estimated at just 100 pounds—went looking for food.

Among the ethics argument about killing the spirit bear during hunting season, Norton previously shared, “Obviously, I’d love to actually see it. If it did get harvested, we’d love to take a genetic sample and get to see if this is the same exact genetic mutation that is what is found in British Columbia in the remote bear population or if it’s something different.”

Aside from the MI spirit bear, most of these creatures live in Canada. They most predominantly occupy the Princess Royal and Gribbell islands along the coast of British Columbia.