Long heralded as the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, the Great Bear forest in western British Columbia stretches for more than 250 miles along the coast of British Columbia. The 21-million-acre wilderness is sometimes called the Amazon of the North, a vast, sodden land that encompasses 1,000-year-old cedars, waterfalls spouting off the sides of moss-covered mountains, granite-dark waters, and glacier-cut fjords.
This remote expanse is home to many First Nations communities as well as abundant wildlife: coastal gray wolves, grizzly bears, Sitka deer, cougars, mountain goats, orca, salmon, sea lions, sea otters, humpback whales, and its most celebrated resident, the rare, cream-colored Kermode bear, or sprit bear, considered sacred by the T'simshian people. Spotting a spirit bear takes a lot of patience, even more luck, and the expert tracking skills of a local guide. A subspecies of black bear, the Kermode bear has naturally white fur. About 10 per cent of the black bears born in this area carry this recessive white gene.
In what was considered a landmark agreement, a major portion of the Great Bear Rainforest, five million acres—almost the size of New Jersey—was declared off-limits to loggers in 2006.
National Geographic Photography
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