White-phase black bear spotted in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

White-phase bear Katie Scott/GlobalTV.ca

Not all black bears are black; there are many different phases with varying colours. These mammals can be black, brown, cinnamon, blue-grey, and even white.

White-phase black bears are often found around coastal British Columbia, Alaska, and Alberta. Though not totally uncommon, these bears are still a rare find. Luckily for two Alberta hikers, the elusive fair-haired black bear was crossing the road right in front of their vehicle in Kananaskis Country on Sunday.

“To see a bear in the wild is so special at any time, but because of her colour, we were totally shocked!” Katie Scott told Global News.

Alberta Parks is aware of this white-phase bear living in the area. The team has observed the bear since she was a cub, her mother and sibling are both pure-black.

“If you run into her by chance, then it’s your lucky day and you can take a picture,” Alberta Parks facility planner Sarah Elmeligi told Global News. “If you’re more than 100 metres away, you’re probably at a safe distance and can capture it on your photo device and go home and tell your friends a great story about how you saw a white-phase black bear in K-Country.”

Scott and her friend paused at the side of the road to take a few shots, but quickly moved on so as not to disturb her further.

“She really is incredibly beautiful and we felt so fortunate to have seen her, especially so close up. We could hardly believe our eyes.”