A Japanese research team has succeeded in taking footage of a white-colored grizzly bear in a forest used for research on Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido.
These types of bears have been observed in the wild on Kunashiri and Etorofu islands off Hokkaido, but it is extremely rare to be able to see the animal repeatedly in the prefecture.
[Photo courtesty of Nihon University's College of Bioresource Sciences]
The grizzly bear has mostly white fur except on its back and was filmed six times between September 2016 and July 2018 by the team from Nihon University's College of Bioresource Sciences.
The group had placed dozens of heat-sensing cameras in the 2,406-hectare forest near the Hokkaido town of Yakumo for research on the animals living there.
Images of the bear include one in which it approaches and looks at the camera.
"Looking at the pattern of colors on its coat, we can deduce that the same bear has been captured on all the footage," said Toshio Tsubota, professor at Hokkaido University's graduate school of veterinary medicine. "It is a female of around 4 years old."
According to wild life experts, many white-colored grizzly bears on the Russian-held islands have white upper bodies and are gray below.
It is possible that genetics played a role in their coloring as their white upper bodies would be difficult for the salmon and trout which they feed on to see them, they said.
On the other hand, the bear in Yakumo has a white lower body. Because it has dark eyes, it is believed not to be an albino mutant.
The team is planning to do a DNA analysis of the bear by taking a sample of its fur.
"As the bear is a female, we are also interested in what color its cub's coat would be," said Koki Inoue, a Nihon University professor and representative of the team.