Articles written by Kayla Heinze

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  • Protecting social habitat for bears

    Kayla Heinze, The Vital Ground Foundation|Apr 25, 2024

    Layered onto the diverse landscapes that grizzly bears call home is another, equally variable ecosystem: the human one. As bears exit their winter dens in search of food and mates this year, be it in sprawling sagebrush steppes, high-elevation whitebark pine stands, or willow-lined waterways, their success will be determined by the availability of social habitat - the tolerance and attitudes that enable coexistence - as much as physical habitat. As a collective, we humans wield immense...

  • Following Their Footsteps: What We Can Learn from Indigenous Peoples' Kinship with Bears

    Kayla Heinze, Vital Ground Foundation|Jun 8, 2023

    Search the internet for news on grizzly bears and you're likely to find plenty of articles detailing human-bear encounters that end in tragic fatalities. These gruesome headlines represent what are, in reality, incredibly rare incidents. According to data from Yellowstone National Park, which hosts the second largest grizzly population in the Lower 48, only eight people have been killed by bears in 150 years of the park's operation. That's an average of one fatality every 18.75 years. Just last...

  • Bears and Berries: Why Shifting Seasons Require Innovative Safety Measures

    Kayla Heinze, Vital Ground Foundation|Jan 5, 2023

    With the calendar turning to a new year, bears across the Northern Rockies are snug in their winter dens. The months leading up to this hibernation season were especially difficult for many of them, however, due in part to a poor summer crop for multiple berry species. Berries are a staple of the Northern Rockies, with long-standing cultural importance for the Indigenous tribes of the region. From mammals like deer and grizzlies to native birds and pollinators, the fruits sustain biodiversity across many landscapes. And with huckleberry pies,...

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