Never-Before-Seen Bear Cub With White Head Spotted By Family In Banff National Park

source: CBC/Julia Turner Butterwick

It’s not rare to spot individual or grizzly bear families while in or around Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. But spotting a grizzly that’s any other color besides brown is certainly rare. Julia Turner Butterwick was driving outside of Banff National Park when she quickly snapped a drive-by photo of an adult grizzly and two cubs. But upon closer inspection of the photo, she realized she had spotted something completely awe-inspiring.

source: Calgary Herald

“I said ‘Oh, I’m just going to snap a picture out the window’ and then as we drove by — we didn’t want to pull over and stop and disturb them — but as we drove by, I realized this cub had a totally white head and it caught me by surprise,” Julia said. “I had never seen anything like it.”

source: CBC/Julia Turner Butterwick

That’s right – one of the bear cubs captured in the photo had a fully white head, with the rest of its body brown. Unbeknownst to her, Julia had captured one of the first photos ever of a rare, white-headed grizzly bear cub. The cub is so rare, park officials have asked Julia not to share the exact location of the discovery, for fear that tourists may flock to the area and potentially disturb wildlife. Or potentially be injured themselves, for that matter.

source: Leavetown

“I feel very privileged to have seen this unique sighting and I wanted to share the picture because I think people will only respect wildlife if they love it and appreciate it,” Julia said. “But I hope it doesn’t encourage people to go out searching for it and disturbing it.” Parks Canada is reminding motorists not to stop on the highway when they see wildlife after this discovery, as well as the discovery of a rare white grizzly bear spotted in the parks of Alberta and British Columbia two months ago.

source: RCI/Parks Canada

While Banff National Park has recently introduced a phased approach to reopening after being temporarily closed due to COVID-19, all visitors to the park require a park pass for entry. On June 22nd, the park will reopen to camping (with restrictions). Remember, no matter where you are – if you spot wildlife, keep your distance and do not disturb animals or their environment. Snap a quick photo like Julia, and continue on your way. It’s up to us to protect and respect wildlife, and to be mindful that we are intruders in their homes.