To the Heiltsuk, the bear is a symbol of strength and authority, to be treated with respect.
"We look at it as though we're on their territory," Housty told Live Science, referring to the grizzly bears. "So we keep our distance, we give them their space."
But Canadian laws don't dictate that everyone leaves the bears alone: Grizzly hunting is still allowed in the region, Housty said.
To better protect the bear population, the Heiltsuk teamed up with scientists from the American Natural History Museum and the Nature Conservancy to create a bear census.
Grizzly bears are incredibly driven to investigate new and interesting smells, Filardi said.
"They're like big, thousand-pound noses wandering around," Filardi told Live Science.
So Housty and two other Heiltsuk researchers laced barbed-wire lures with a pungent scent such as skunk musk, and strategically placed them on trees and other spots that bears like to rub against.
The bears, lured by the scent, would sniff around, rub themselves on the snares, and leave stray hairs behind.