We investigated the distribution of brown bears (Ursus arctos) with white pelage in Kunashiri and Etorofu Islands, Southern Kuril Islands; we here name this white pelage form the Ininkari bear. The fur color of the brown bear varies considerably throughout its range, and many pelage variations have been reported. Ininkari bears are unique in having white fur only on the upper half of the body. There are no reports of bears with the Ininkari-type markings in other regions of the world. According to literature and interview surveys, Ininkari bears have been recognized since at least the late 1800s on Kunashiri and Etorofu. We surmise the reasons that distribution of Ininkari bears is restricted to these islands are the lack of predators and the low hunting pressure on brown bears there; these factors may allow the bears to maintain such a unique pelage.
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Vol. 22 • No. 1