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1 .Today we continue our series on ecology and conservation with a look at a particularly endangered member of the black bear family.
2 .One in ten black bears is actually born with a white coat, which is the result of a special gene that surfaces in a few.
3 .Local people have named it 'the spirit bear'.
4 .And according to the legends of these communities, its snowy fur brings with it a special power.
5 .Because of this, it has always been highly regarded by them - so much that they do not speak of seeing it to anyone else.
6 .It is their way of protecting it when strangers visit the area.
1 .The white bear's habitat is quite interesting.
2 .The bear's strong relationship with the old-growth rainforest is a complex one.
3 .The white bear relies on the huge centuries-old trees in the forest in many ways.
4 .For example, the old-growth trees have extremely long roots that help prevent erosion of the soil along the banks of the many fish streams.
5 .Keeping these banks intact is important because these streams are home to salmon, which are the bear's main food source.
6 .In return, the bear's feeding habits nurture the forest.
7 .As the bears eat the salmon, they discard the skin and bones in great amounts on the forest floor, which provide vital nutrients.
8 .These produce lush vegetation that sustains thousands of other types of life forms, from birds to insects and more.
1 .Today, the spirit bear lives off the coast of the province of British Columbia on a few islands.
2 .There is great concern for their survival since it is estimated that less than two hundred of these white bears remain.
3 .The best way to protect them is to make every effort to preserve the delicate balance of their forest environment - in other words, their ecosystem.
1 .The greatest threat to the bear's existence is the loss of its habitat.
2 .Over many years, logging companies have stripped the land by cutting down a large number of trees.
3 .In addition, they have built roads which have fractured the areas where the bear usually feeds, and many hibernation sites have also been lost.
4 .The logging of the trees along the streams has damaged the places where the bears fish.
5 .To make matters worse, the number of salmon in those streams is declining because there is no legal limit on fishing at the moment.
1 .All these influences have a negative impact on the spirit bear's very existence, which is made all the more fragile by the fact that reproduction among these bears has always been disappointingly low.
1 .And so, what's the situation going forward?
2 .Community organizations, environmental groups and the British Columbia government are now working together on the problem.
3 .The government is now requiring logging companies to adopt a better logging method, which is a positive step.
4 .However, these measures alone may not be sufficient to ensure a healthy population of the spirit bear in the future.
1 .Other steps also need to be taken.
2 .While it is important to maintain the spirit bear's habitat, there also needs to be more emphasis on its expansion.
3 .The move is justified as it will also create space for other bears that are losing their homes.