Alaska Park Ranger Says: “Fat Bear Week” Celebrates the Animal

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There’s a competition heating up Alaska that celebrates fur, heaviness and curves. It’s Fat Bear Week, when all eyes are on the furry chonks to see which one will gain the most weight in the lead up to their hibernation.

The Alaska brown bears living in Katmai National Park and Preserve have a strong appetite for salmon, particularly wild salmon caught from Brooks River.

A little more than 100 bears eat from the river. Rangers assure that the competition will not hurt any bears or their emotions. 

“A lot of people think that Fat Bear Week is almost like a shameful thing,” Keith Moore, Interpretive Park Ranger at the Katmai National Park and Preserve, spoke to Inside Edition Digital. “Like, ‘Oh man, you’re talking about the bears being fat.’ But it’s actually a celebration that recognizes this transformation that the bears are going through.”

“These bears have to put on as much fat as they can before they go into hibernation for the winter, where they’ll be living off of their fat reserves the whole time,”He concluded.

Katmai National Park Preserve brown bears love salmon, particularly wild caught from Brooks River.

This river is home for just over 100 bears. However, the salmon are more likely to be caught because of its high water level.

Also, serious competitors will be fishing for salmon from the falls.

“The ones that can really hold their ground in their territory are usually the ones that fish the falls because it is a highly coveted spot to try to get fish. So that was one of the interesting things was, yes, there were a lot of salmon, but the river itself presented some challenges by being a little bit higher this year,”Moore stated.

Otis was the 2021 Fat Bear Week champion. He has previously won many competitions. Will he win another title?

“Otis is a very old bear, and so he has won a lot of competitions in the past, and I think he’s one of those fan favorites because he’s been there for a long time,”Moore stated. “Some bears, they use the river one year, and maybe they don’t use it the next year, they move on to different streams that hold salmon. So it’s not every year that we get to see some bears. But 480 Otis, he’s been one that we’ve had a pleasure of watching for most of his life.”

The public votes to decide the Fat Bear Week winner.

Officially, Fat Bear Week begins Oct. 5. You can see the bears gaining weight via bear cam. Votes can be cast at FatBearWeek.org.

 

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