‘Never seen anything like it’: Bear cub spotted in Alberta with unique white head
One couple was treated to an ultra-rare sight on their Albertan road trip. What they thought was just an ordinary family of grizzlies turned out to be more after they realized one baby had an all-white head.
Parks Canada said they’re putting “measures in place” to protect the white-headed bear cub. Calgary resident Julia Turner Butterwick told Narcity she and her family were on their way home from Banff National Park when they spotted the strange bear. It was Sunday, June 14.
“We’ve seen quite a few bears on our drive, we saw probably three or four grizzlies and three black bears that day,” she said.
“We came across this mama grizzly she was just right on the side of the highway.”
When she noticed the mama had cubs with her, Turner Butterwick took out her phone and snapped a quick picture. It wasn’t until later that she discovered one cub’s strange appearance.
“We didn’t stop, we just kept going, we didn’t want to disturb them,” she continued. “When I zoomed in on the photo I said yeah, he’s got a fully white head I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Turner Butterwick later reported the sighting to Parks Canada. They thanked her for sharing the picture and said it was “really unique.”
“They said that they were going to put some measures in place to help protect the family and just asked that I not release the exact location,” she said, to stop photographers from searching for the bear.
Narcity has reached out to Parks Canada for comment and we will update this story when we receive a response. Several wildlife experts told Global News that they’d never seen anything like the cub’s specific colour pattern.
However, all-white grizzlies have been reported before, and very recently, one had been spotted in Banff.
“I love seeing wildlife, I love animals, and so anytime I see animals in the wild, it’s exciting. It’s especially exciting for me to see it through my four-year-old’s eyes,” said Turner Butterwick. “I just wish I took more than one picture.”
UPDATE Wildlife experts say the death of a mother grizzly bear and her two cubs — including a rare, blond-headed grizzly — in Banff National Park is a major loss to the population.
Parks Canada has said that an adult bear was struck and killed Sept. 3 by a Canadian Pacific Railway train on a rail line through the Alberta park.
“She was about 10 years old and had been known to Parks Canada,” Dwight Bourdin, resource conservation manager with the agency’s Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay field unit, said in an interview this week.
The bear, known as No. 143, spent most of her time in the backcountry of Banff and the adjacent Yoho and Kootenay national parks in British Columbia, Bourdin said.
She was spotted earlier this summer with two cubs, including the one with a blond head and brown body. But Bourdin said neither cub has been spotted since before the mother bear was killed.