KING SALMON, Alaska (Gray News) – Welcome to Fat Bear Week 2019 – the annual competition where the roly-poly is celebrated, and no bear is too chunky.
The annual March Madness-style competition pits some of the well-known bears of the Brooks River against one another.
The public can vote on Katmai National Park and Preserve’s Facebook page in head-to-head matches each day through Oct. 8.
“There is no shame in winning this contest as large amounts of body fat in brown bears is indicative of good health and strong chances of survival,” said a press release from Katmai National Park & Preserve. “The bears need stores of fat to help them survive their Sleeping Beauty impersonations.”
This is the time of year when brown bears are in a feeding frenzy to fatten themselves up for winter hibernation. The Brooks River salmon provide an ample buffet as dozens of bears descend on a one-mile stretch to feast.
If you’re new to Bear Week, the top contenders this year include bear 747, whose name and heft conjure up images of jumbo jets.
He faces strong competition from bear 435 Holly and bear 128 Grazer, two females that have been very successful in packing on the pounds and might even bring a new litter of cubs into their dens this winter.
The Katmai press release says this year’s competition is a wide-open affair.
Last year’s reigning queen, bear 409 Beadnose, has declined to compete this year, so it’s anybody’s game in 2019.