We hope you’re ready, because Alaska’s Katmai National Park is hosting its annual Fat Bear Week competition yet again! Enter this quirky contest to see which of the park’s bears can get the fattest before their winter hibernation. Bears will lose one third of their body fat during the slumber, so it’s important that they bulk up in order to survive. You’d be surprised how large these bears get in preparation, it’s truly something to see!
These massive beasts feed on sockeye salmon in Katmai National Park and Preserve’s Brooks River to gain the majority of their weight. Avid fans can watch the bears’ progression on remote bear cams set up in the forest. The bears have a hierarchy when it comes to hunting and bulking up for winter, so you’ll want to look out as some of the older bears, who have been tough competitors in the past, have their dominance challenged by the younger, fresher bears.
There are some “favorites” who have really packed on the pounds and are expected to win this year’s competition. Last year’s Fat Bear Week winner was veteran “Holly”, bear number 435, but for your bracket’s sake, you’ll want to keep an eye out for this year’s favorites who could take it all!
This year’s competition promises to be unique in the wake of the novel Coronavirus pandemic. Typically, visitors flock to this remote region each year to keep eyes on the bears, arriving in loud floatplanes near the bears’ hunting grounds. However, due to the pandemic there are sure to be vastly fewer visitors this year. It’s still unclear how this reduced human interaction will affect the bears, but park rangers will definitely be keeping their eyes peeled for more bears flocking to the river and any unusual behavior in the park around this time.
More than just a wacky and fun way to track the park’s fattest bears, this contest strives to get the community involved in park conservation efforts and help park visitors and supporters connect with what’s going on inside Katmai National Park and Preserve. This competition garners more than 60,000 voters which just goes to show, people really love chubby bears!
If anything, this year’s Fat Bear Week competition will provide a much-needed break from the often bleak reality of 2020 and will allow viewers to lose themselves in the affairs of the bears of the wild Alaskan woods. So fill out your bracket and prepare for some fierce competition! The winner will be crowned this year in October, and we’re wishing all of our bear contestants a fat and successful hibernation!