Fat Bear Junior 2021

Picture of four cubs set up in a bracket style with two head-to-head matches
For the first time, cubs have a division all their own.
New in 2021, Fat Bear Junior highlights four cubs in a precursor competition to Fat Bear Week. Cast your votes on September 23 and 24 in this single elimination tournament. Voting closes at 5pm AKDT. The winner then advances to the main Fat Bear Week bracket to compete against the more senior titan bears of Brooks River.

**And overcoming with floof and fat, 132's spring cub is named the first ever Fat Bear Junior Champion!**
 

128's Yearling

A skinny cub standing on a rock in water A skinny cub standing on a rock in water

Left image
128's yearling cub on July 7, 2021
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Right image
128's yearling cub on August 20, 2021
Credit: Photo courtesy of N. Boak

128 Grazer’s Dark Yearling

Identification

This second-year female cub has brown fur that is especially grizzled around her face and neck. Her ears are conspicuously blond like her mother 128 Grazer.

Biography

Born in 2020, this yearling and her twin sister have benefited greatly from their mother’s bold nature and therefore gained regular access to productive fishing areas. On the lip of Brooks Falls, Grazer’s dark yearling wasn’t satisfied with scavenging parts of mother’s catches, however. She followed mom’s lead instead. By the end of the summer she frequently caught her own leaping salmon—a skill that often takes bears much longer to attain. No other yearling bear in memory of park staff has successfully and regularly caught fish on the lip of Brooks Falls.

 

132's Spring Cub

a small cub standing in white flowers a small cub standing in white flowers

Left image
132's spring cub on July 7, 2021
Credit: NPS Photo/C. Spencer

Right image
132's spring cub on September 13, 2021
Credit: NPS Photo/C. Spencer

132’s Spring Cub

Identification

This first-year bear has a short muzzle and shaggy brown fur.

Biography

This spring cub is one of two surviving members of a litter of three cubs that arrived with their mother at Brooks River in early July. Bear 132 is an experienced mother who has used Brooks River every year since 2009. Perhaps to provide her cubs with a greater level of security, 132 rarely ventured in the vicinity of Brooks Falls this summer. She and her cubs fished areas farther downstream. They also encountered people near Brooks Lodge as her mother would sometimes venture near the buildings. Although this cub wasn’t exposed to productive fishing spots at the waterfall, it still experienced rapid growth. Like other spring cubs, it may look small but it probably weighs more than 60 pounds (27 kg). It is poised to gain even more body mass as it follows mother in her late summer pursuit of salmon.

 

435's Yearling

A skinny cub on a rocky shore with water behind A skinny cub on a rocky shore with water behind

Left image
435's yearling cub on July 16, 2021
Credit: NPS Photo/N. Boak

Right image
435's yearling cub on September 10, 2021
Credit: Photo courtesy of N. Boak

435 Holly’s Yearling

Identification

This second-year female cub has grizzled-blonde fur. Her appearance closely resembles her mother, 435 Holly.

Biography

In late summer 2020, Holly’s yearling was hobbled by porcupine quills. The pad of one of her front paws resembled a pin cushion. Yet, she recovered quickly and has displayed no signs of injury or pain from the quills this year. She is curious and willing to look outside her immediate family for a playmate. Holly’s yearling often wrestled with a yearling from a different bear family. Her mother uses areas near the outlet of Brooks River—a place where the family can scavenge dead salmon at high rates but also exposes them to frequent close encounters with humans. In the future, this yearling may become more habituated to our presence. Habituation can allow bears to utilize habitat close to people, but it can also expose bears to hazards when people do not behave properly. Visitors to Katmai can work to protect bears by ensuring bears never have access to human possessions (which they often use as play toys) or human food sources that can teach bears to approach us or our buildings out of hunger.

 

909's Spring Cub

a small cub with natal collar a small cub with natal collar

Left image
909's spring cub on July 26, 2021
Credit: Photo courtesy of N. Boak

Right image
909's spring cub on September 5, 2021
Credit: Photo courtesy of N. Boak

909’s Spring Cub

Identification

This first-year cub has dark brown ears and medium-brown body fur.

Biography

This spring cub is the surviving sibling of a litter of two that arrived with bear 909 in early summer. Like 132, bear 909 appeared to change her behavior in early summer to give her cub a greater level of security. In prior years, 909 frequently fished on the lip of Brooks Falls, but she mostly avoided that area for several weeks in early summer and only began to venture there with regularity at the end of July. At the falls, the family experienced a great amount of competition for fishing spots. In one notable instance 909’s cub fell off the waterfall when 128 Grazer challenged the family for a preferred fishing spot. This cub wasn’t always on the defensive, though. Spring cubs are generally risk averse, but she once charged and drove away a bear who approached her and her mother.

 

*Bear identification and biography text written by explore.org's resident naturalist, Mike Fitz.

Last updated: September 27, 2021

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1000 Silver Street, Building 603

King Salmon, AK 99613

Phone:

(907) 246-3305

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