Fat Bear Week has returned for 2023 and the annual competition at Katmai National Park And Preserve in Alaska is delivering some absolute units. With famous faces like Chunk, Holly, and 747 back and in the running, who knows who will be the victor for this year? All that’s certain is you’ve got to be in it to win it, so get voting now.
The waters of Katmai National Park are quivering with the thud of fat bears, as its residents are gearing up for winter just in time for the annual Fat Bear Week competition. Aimed to celebrate the healthy bulking season of Alaska’s brown bears (Ursus arctos) who must pile on the pounds if they’re to survive winter, it demonstrates the dramatic transformation they undergo on a yearly basis.
The Alaska Peninsula is home to more bears than people, and Katmai is considered one of the best viewing sites in the world for bodacious brown bears. They’ll soon disappear from sight as they hunker down to wait out the worst of the cold weather in a six-month sleep that can claim a third of their total body weight. As such, it pays to be at your portliest when hibernation time arrives.
Getting Hibernation Body Ready is a competitive sport for these animals, as they battle for resources like the best fishing spots. The competition couldn’t be clearer in the case of Chunk, a bear who used to struggle to compete for fishing spots but is now pushing out units like Katmai’s 747, aka Bear Force Once, who has deferred spots to his competitor in 2023.
They’re fighting over sockeye salmon, a fish that’s rich in fats and readily available in Katmai, where around 3 million of them attempt to pass through in the annual salmon run. If the harvest is bountiful, the bears can expect to bulk up by around 1.8 kilograms (4 pounds) a day during the summer months.
Some argue that it doesn’t always come down to size, however, as in 2022 there was talk that 435 tried to snatch victory from the jowls of defeat when voter fraud almost crowned them over the true winner – 747. The record was set straight, however, and 747’s fat head was crowned the official victor for 2022. Heavy is the head, indeed.
To keep up with the bears and whatever scandals the 2023 battle may bring, make sure you vote for your winner of Fat Bear Week 2023. There’s a lot of bear to go around, but only one can win.
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