Grizzly Bear Narrative Text
Watch the video about bears and use the provided teacher guide to lead a discussion with your students. Then read the narrative text below using Shared Reading Strategies. Use the questions at the bottom of the page to check for comprehension and engagement.
Grizzly Bear "Protectors" the Heiltsuk Nation
How the people of the Heiltsuk Nation worked with scientists to study grizzly bears.
William Housty is a member of the Heiltsuk Nation. The Heiltsuk Nation is a tribal nation located in British Columbia, Canada. Members of the Heiltsuk Nation have lived in this area for thousands of years. They lived there long before settlers arrived from Europe in the 1800s. Throughout their long history, Heiltsuk people have had a special relationship with grizzly bears. Today, Will Housty and other Heiltsuk people are working with scientists to protect the grizzly bears in Canada.
Grizzly bears are a species of brown bear that live in North America. They are known for their thick brown coats and enormous size. Adult male grizzly bears can weigh nearly 800 pounds. There are currently around 50,000 grizzlies in North America. 30,000 live in Alaska and around 15,000 live in British Columbia, Canada.
The grizzly bear population has gone down a lot in recent years. That’s because humans have hunted them and destroyed their habitats. Many people are working to increase the number of grizzlies. In Canada, native people like William are looking for new ways to keep grizzlies safe.
In 2006, William wanted to learn more about the grizzlies that live near the Koeye watershed. The Koeye watershed is a large forest on the coast of British Columbia. So, he called a scientist in New York named Chris. Chris is a scientist that studies different kinds of plants and animals.
“Hi Chris,” William said over the phone. “I’d like to work with you and other scientists to study grizzly bears in Canada. The Heiltsuk people know a lot about these bears. By working together, I think we can come up with better ways to protect them.”
Chris cared about grizzly bears too. He knew that the Heiltsuk people had a lot of information about the bears that could help scientists. He agreed to work with William and took an airplane to Canada.
When Chris arrived, William told him all about the Heiltsuk people.
“Members of the Heiltsuk Nation have lived close to grizzly bears for many years,” William said. “These native people have passed down information about the grizzlies for generations. This information helps the Heiltsuk people get close to the bears without harming them. By doing so, both the bears and the Heiltsuk people benefit.”
Together, William and Chris came up with a good way to study grizzly bears in British Columbia. Because the Heiltsuk people have so much respect for these bears, the two men came up with rules about how to do the research. They decided they would not capture or harm any bears. Instead, they used cameras and traps to collect hair from the bears.
Over the next three years, William and Chris set up hair traps around the bear’s habitat. They placed cameras around the area too. During this time, they followed the bears and watched them from far away. They wanted to learn how many different bears lived in the area. To do this, William and Chris studied the bear hair caught in the traps. By studying the different hairs, William found out that nearly 60 different bears lived right near his home.
“60 grizzly bears live in an area of only about 69 square miles,” William told Chris.
“That’s more than I expected!” said Chris. “Only about 150 grizzlies live in Yellowstone National Park. And that covers 3,472 square miles.”
William and Chris shared this information with other scientists and government groups. By doing so, they showed that grizzly bears in the area needed more protected land to be healthy and thrive. The information they collected helped in other ways too. It showed that scientists should work with native people when studying plants and animals in certain places. Today, William is still working with other scientists to learn more about grizzlies in Canada.