While exploring Yoho National Park, a photographer captured footage of a polar bear that had wandered all the way down to eastern British Columbia. Just kidding. Actually, Alberta native Noel Rodgers caught the equally spectacular white grizzly bear as it lumbered along the tree line in the parklands.
As it turns out, the gifted photographer (and now videographer) spotted the famed Nakoda, the park’s widely-adored and incredibly rare Ursus arctos horribilis. Rodgers shared the clip of the grizzly bear on Facebook on June 5, and since then the 45-second video has gone viral.
In the video, Nakoda wanders in front of the evergreens, just a short distance from where Rodgers stood near Lake O’Hara. Unbothered by the photographer’s presence, she continued her journey near the cabin, finally disappearing back into the trees.
Though Nakoda’s fur is fairly light, she isn’t albino or even piebald. Grizzly bears, a sub-category of brown bears, can vary in color, ranging from the dark brown we commonly see up to Nakoda’s shade. That said, it’s still rare to see one quite so light in the wild.
Check out Nakoda in all of her glory.
Canadian Photographer Was ‘in Complete Awe’ of White Grizzly Bear
In a phone interview with CTV News Calgary, Rodgers recalled the moment when he first saw Nakoda.
“I didn’t know it was a bear at first,” Rogers said. “I thought it was a mountain goat.”
Quickly, he realized the fantastic yet deadly animal before him. Despite the potentially dangerous situation, Rodgers didn’t show any fear. In fact, he even started chatting with Nakoda.
“She was staring right at me. She looked healthy. We stared at each other for a good 10-15 seconds. I started talking to her a little,” he continued.
Though their moment together was brief, the Alberta photographer knew just how magical the sighting was.
“We spent about five minutes together and I was in complete awe of her,” Rogers later said in an email to CTV News. “She is so beautiful and was so peaceful.”
Unfortunately, though, Nakoda’s story isn’t without tragedy. According to Rodgers, Nakoda’s sibling had died from a car accident on the highway just several days before the sighting. With one less grizzly bear in the park, Nakoda’s presence is more important than ever.
Shortly after Rodgers’ first post, he encountered the white grizzly bear once again in the same location.
“Once she left I retraced her steps trying to get a photo of her paw prints in the snow. I was surprised to see no sign of her tracks at all and discovered that she was licking up a bunch of little black bugs that were all over the top of the snow. She did not seem to have a care in the world and was causally [sic] strolling around licking up all of the bugs she could find,” the photographer explained.