“Fat Bear Week” Contest Finds The Alaska’s Bulkiest Bear of 2022
“Fat Bear Week” is a weeklong, bracket-style elimination contest that pits the bulkiest bears of Katmai National Park against one another. At this time of the year bears are embracing their ursine urge to eat like there’s no tomorrow and fortify themselves for winter hibernation.
The contest highlights the amazing transformation bears must make after they emerge from hibernation, emaciated and hungry. From the middle of summer to the fall, an average male adult can go from weighing 600-900 pounds to well over 1,000 pounds. Scroll down to see the best contestants from this and previous years!
Just as previous years, the competition is stiff this year: Otis, a large adult bear with the record for most “Fat Bear Week” wins at four, is back to defend his title. He once ate 42 salmon in one sitting, and his fishing skills and patience are hard to beat. But Bear 747, winner of “Fat Bear Week” 2020, always gives Otis a decent competition. He is one of the largest bears on earth, weighing as much as 1,400 pounds. Most bears know they can’t compete with him, but Otis refuses to be intimidated.
The bears’ backstories are also a great way for the park to educate the public about the wide range of bear behaviors, from their fishing and survival strategies to how they interact with other animals. So this fat bear extravaganza is not only fun to watch, but also educational. Simply brilliant!
One of the educational pieces you can learn is that hibernation is not as simple as the animals merely going to sleep. The bear’s heart rate lowers, the activity obviously is very minimal and it truly is just their body utilizing that fat to keep this baseline going. If the bears don’t have adequate fat stored, some may even die during hibernation. That’s why the fattest bears have the best chance at survival. When spring rolls around, they’ll be able to emerge from their dens to continue their life cycle. And for one lucky bear, it will mean emerging as a champion.
“Bear 747 is a very large adult male with a blocky muzzle and a floppy right ear. In early summer, his reddish-brown fur sheds in a patchy manner. Like many adult males, he often has scars and wounds on his face and neck. In late summer and fall, he is typically very fat with a low-hanging belly and uniformly dark brown fur.”
747: Fat Bear Week 2022 Champion
“Few brown bears ever grow as large as the bear who shares an identification number with a jet airplane. When 747 was first identified in 2004, he was a relatively young bear, only a few years old and unable to compete with larger bears for the most preferred fishing locations. Since then, he has become one of the largest brown bears on Earth, perhaps weighing as much as 1,400 pounds (636 kg).
He is a skilled and efficient angler who is found fishing most often in the jacuzzi or near the far pool of Brooks Falls. In 2022, he fished at Brooks Falls almost every day between late June and mid-September. Only rival males of comparable size, of which there are very few, challenge 747 for fishing spots. Despite his great size, 747 yielded to the river’s most dominant bear, 856, for many years. That changed in summer 2021 when 747 asserted his dominance over his rival. Surprisingly, 747 yielded space numerous times to 856 in early summer 2022, but their positions in the hierarchy switched by late summer. When he was present in late August and September, 747 was again the river’s most dominant bear.
Although dominant bears can maintain their rank in the hierarchy through aggression, 747 typically keeps his status by sheer size alone. Most bears recognize they cannot compete with him physically and they yield space upon his approach. He shows that skill and size influence success in the bear world. He was the 2020 Fat Bear Week champion.”