Mystery of a black bear with a white head is solved

A Canadian man snapped an unusual photo of what appears to be a rare American black bear with a white head and back leg roaming the neighborhood of Val Caron in Ontario, Canada.

Last week, Sudbury.com published the photo taken by Ron Lafontaine and wrote about the odd bear, mentioning that there is a rare subspecies of the American black bear that has a white or cream-colored coat like a polar bear. It's called a Kermode bear or the spirit bear, and the color is due to a double recessive gene.

But when a wildlife official of the Ministry of Natural Resources saw the photo, she dismissed the possibility that it was a spirit bear.

"While MNRF can't confirm without capturing and seeing the bear, we suspect this is not a genetic phenomenon," Karen Passmore of the MNRF told Sudbury.com. "Rather, the bear may have gotten into a container coated with something white; we can see from the photo the substance is also on part of its hind end.

"It's likely that this white bear will be black again in the spring."

RELATED: Rare black bear cub with odd coloring might be a 'spirit bear'

Passmore was proven correct when a neighbor of Lafontaine came forward this week and said the photo was taken in her backyard, as reported by Sudbury.com.

And what was the substance on the bear's head and leg? Flour.

"It [the bear] was in my compost beside the shed where I just emptied two bags of flour that I found beetles in and potato peels, and under that was my house scraps," Rebecca Duchesne wrote on Facebook, according to Sudbury.com. "So it was probably damp and it [was] rooting around in there."

Mystery solved, case closed.

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