National Park Units

Katmai National Park & Preserve: Fat Bear Week

Every year in October the Katmai Conservancy celebrates “Fat Bear Week” where everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite Fat Bear. This year’s contestants include Otis 480, Grazer 128, Walker 151, defending Champion Holly 435, and our favorite Chunk 32.

Check out www.explore.org/fat-bear-week and place your votes!!!

Why are Fat Bears Important?

The contest is fun, but there is a serious aspect to fat bears. In late fall they will go into hibernation and during that time they don’t eat or drink at all. Most will lose as much as 1/3 of their body weight, perhaps more for females who must also feed their newborn cubs in spring. Survival means they must begin this period of hibernation with ample fat reserves.

Researchers monitor the bears at Katmai National Park & Preserve. They try to assign each one a name or number, or both, and keep track of their progress. Rangers get to recognize them. It’s not just their color or shape, like humans, their ears are distinctive. One of the rangers was pointing out the bears as they began to arrive at Katmai in the spring. One of our favorites was Chunk 32. He was “only” about 700 pounds and that was light for him.

He and the other bears spend the summer gorging themselves on the fattest, richest foods they can find. They return year after year to Katmai because this is home to one of the healthiest runs of salmon in the state. The bears spend from June to October eating as much salmon as they can – each day the equivalent of 75 Big Macs!!!

Get online and check out the fat bears! Be sure to vote for your favorite.

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