Some hikers in Alaska’s Katmai National Park have had a close encounter of the massive, furry kind after the largest bear in the area took a stroll right past them. Aptly-named bear 747 (not named after a jumbo jet, but it seems far too much of a coincidence) was passing through a track when it ran into Cara Siciliano and a group of tourists.
Luckily the bear seemed more interested in checking out a picture of Katmai's famous brown bears on a notice board than the group.
Siciliano was on a floatplane tour from Homer, Alaska to Katmai National Park. The captain, Patrick Carter, an experienced guide who has led hundreds of trips through the park, seemed to think it was no big deal, however.
It was not an unusual event,” Carter told Flying magazine. “It’s not a deadly thing. It’s sort of like a ‘nothing to see here’ thing. You could literally take that video every day.”
Since encountering a bear roughly the size and weight of a smallish rhinoceros is apparently a daily possibility, it's best to have some know-how on what to do should one appear rather suddenly.
You’ll notice that Carter continuously talks to the bear as it passes. It is recommended hikers are loud as they walk through bear territory, allowing any nearby wild animals ample time to identify them as humans and steer clear. While it is not always necessary once the bear is extremely close like in this situation, the speech may help the bear identify humans and the calm tone dictates you are not a threat. For more advice on bear encounters visit Katmai's website.
While not often seen in populated areas, 747, which has taken the top spot in the Brooks River area, does not seem wary of people. Well, if you like that, why would you be?
Bear 747 was crowned the fattest bear of 2020 in the National Park's famous "Fat Bear Week" competition, taking home the title of bear that fattened up the most in preparation for winter. If this sounds like a competition you want in on (the IFLScience team is hotly anticipating the yearly sweepstake), Fat Bear Week 2021 starts on September 29 through October 5 this year. And if you want to see any of the chonky creatures in action then check out explore.org's bearcams, starring the bears of Brooks Falls.