Extremely Rare White Grizzly Bear Killed in Road Accicent in Canada

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A rare white grizzly bear has died in a road accident in Canada. Named Nakoda by parks staff, the bear had an online following thanks to photographs posted to social media by passersby. She died on the Trans-Canada Highway, and experts say her increased exposure to humans may have contributed by persuading her to feel more comfortable being close to roadways. 

Canada’s regional wildlife management team, Parks Canada, tried to protect Nakoda and connected her to a GPS system, but she continued to approach the highway as she became increasingly comfortable around people.

Parks Canada staff said the animal ran into the road after being startled by a train. Two cars were traveling in her direction at the time, and while one managed to veer away, the other did not react in time and struck Nakoda. She limped away from the scene, and parks officials hoped she would recover, but a GPS signal two days later indicated that she had died. Examinations revealed extensive internal injuries.

Nakoda was struck on the same road and on the same day that her cubs were similarly killed. Park officials said the two cubs were hit by a car on the Trans-Canada Highway, and while they were busy constructing fencing to keep other bears safe, they witnessed Nakoda’s accident. 

Kris Hundertmark of the University of Alaska said the bear’s unusual white coloring results from a recessive gene present in both parents. There are no statistics on white grizzly bears because they are so rare that no records are kept. Grizzlies are usually brown, and there are currently around 60,000 living in North America, with 30,000 in Alaska. Other US states with a grizzly population are Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, where there are specific conservation areas aimed at protecting the dwindling population from hunting. 

Adults can weigh up to 700 pounds and eat up to 90 pounds of food per day. Grizzly bears rarely attack humans, but females can protect their cubs aggressively.