Fat Bear Week 2022

Fat Bear Week 2022 bracket with winner 747

*** The votes are in- you’ve decided to upgrade to fish class and fly with Fat Bear Week 2022 Champion 747! ***

2022 Fat Bear Week!

Fat Bear Week is a celebration of success and survival. It is a way to celebrate the resilience, adaptability and strength of Katmai’s brown bears. Bears are matched against each other in a “march madness” style competition and online visitors can vote who is ultimately crowned the Fat Bear Week 2022 Champion. Over the course of the week, virtual visitors learn more about the lives and histories of individual bears while also gaining a greater understanding of Katmai’s ecosystem through a series of live events hosted on explore.org. Join us this Fat Bear Week October 5 - 11 and vote daily from 8am - 5pm AKDT at www.fatbearweek.org.

More pictures of the bears can be found on Katmai's Flickr page.

 

Meet the Bears

 

32 Chunk

A bear walking in water A bear walking in water

Left image
July 11, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Right image
September 6, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Description
32 Chunk was first identified in 2007 as a two and half year-old bear, making him in his late teens. He is a large adult male known to arrive in spring still carrying weight from the previous fall, mostly in his hind quarters. He has a distinctive scar across his muzzle.

Biography
32 Chunk is consistently one of the largest and most dominant bears at the falls. In previous years, he weighed an estimated 1,200 lbs in fall. He frequently occupies the best fishing spots on the river and has access to the best mating opportunities. He is a patient bear and will occupy the same spot for extended periods of time. Despite his fishing skills, he often waits for scraps and leftovers from other bears. But at the same time, he does not hesitate to challenge and displace others from the resources he wants. His range of behaviors demonstrates his opportunistic strategy and his individuality.

 

128 Grazer

A bear walking in water with a waterfall behind A bear walking in water with a waterfall behind

Left image
June 24, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Right image
September 10, 2022
Credit: NPS Photo/L. Law

Description
128 Grazer was first identified in 2009 and she is approximately 17-19 years old. She has a light coat in the spring with dark patches around her eyes. Her coat is darker in the fall, but she keeps her distinctive fluffy blonde ears. 

Biography
128 Grazer is one of the larger and more dominant females to fish the falls. She can be an especially defensive and assertive bear when she has cubs, or when defending a prime fishing location. She has been known to push other bears away when they get too close. This year, she kept her cubs for a third summer, giving the cubs extra time to perfect their fishing techniques and build their skills under her protection. 128's disposition allows her and her cubs access to some of the best fishing spots on the river.

 

151 Walker

A bear standing in water A bear standing in water

Left image
July 10, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of T. Carmack

Right image
August 28, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of K. Grossman

Description
151 Walker was first identified as an independent two-year-old in 2009. He is a large adult male. He has a long, tapering muzzle and widely spaced, upright ears. In early summer, he has prominent dark eye-rings and in late summer his fur is dark brown. He arrived this spring with a large wound on his right hip that can still be seen.

Biography
151 Walker is a frequent user of Brooks Falls. He is one of the largest bears to use the river. His size and assertive disposition give him his choice of preferred fishing areas. He is a skilled angler at fishing the lip of the falls, something not many large, dominant boars do. His range of fishing spots are an indicator of his adaptability and skill. As a young adult, 151 used to play frequently, but now he prioritizes fishing over play. His many scars demonstrate the challenges of being a large, dominant bear. 

 

164

A bear standing in water A bear standing in water

Left image
June 30, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of T. Carmack

Right image
September 6, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of T. Carmack

Description
164 was first identified as a subadult in 2019, making him approximately six years old. He has a light to medium brown coat in spring that darkens in the fall and blond, oval ears. He has a dark, vertical indentation on his upper muzzle.

Biography
164’s preferred fishing spot is at the base of the falls, sandwiched between the lip and the jacuzzi. 164 has shown great ingenuity in finding this unique spot not frequented by other bears. His innovative technique and location has given him access to the resources he needs without many confrontations with the more dominant bears at the falls. His behavior demonstrates both the creativity and sociability needed by younger bears using Brooks River.

 

335

A light bear half sitting on a bank A light bear half sitting on a bank

Left image
July 26, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of K. Moore

Right image
September 15, 2022
Credit: NPS Photo/T. Carmack

Description
335 is a 2.5-year-old subadult from 435 Holly’s most recent litter. She has a very light blond coat and round, fluffy ears.

Biography
335 was emancipated by her mother 435 Holly, this spring. Subadults, essentially the teenagers of the bear world, rank lowest in the bear hierarchy. They also face some of the toughest challenges as they must learn to navigate the world without mom for the first time. In the beginning of the season, she appeared to be struggling with the separation from her mother and seemed to be quite skinny. She often followed 435 downriver, but 435 continued to reinforce the separation. Eventually, 435 relented and tolerated 335 occasionally fishing nearby. She has since gained the weight critical to her survival this winter. Like many subadults, she has been seen playing and hanging out with other bears her age, a common behavior amongst newly independent bears.

 

435 Holly

Bear walking Bear walking

Left image
June 28, 2022
Credit: NPS Photo/T. Carmack

Right image
September 10, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of E. Johnston

Description
435 Holly was first identified as a young adult or older subadult in 2001, putting her in her mid to late 20’s. This makes her one of the older bears to use Brooks River. She has a light-colored coat, reminiscent of a toasted marshmallow. She has a distinctive dark stripe down her back, very light ears, and noticeably light claws.

Biography
435 Holly was the 2019 Fat Bear Week champion. She has a wide range of fishing spots and is defensive in protecting them, especially when she has cubs. She is an experienced mother of four litters and is perhaps best known for adopting 503 in 2014 and raising him alongside her own spring cub. While adoption does occur in the wild, it is rare to witness. This summer, 435 Holly returned as a single sow where she has gained substantial weight without needing to allocate resources to provide for cubs.  

 

480 Otis

A bear standing in water A bear standing in water

Left image
July 1, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of C. Rohdenburg

Right image
September 14, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Description
480 Otis was first identified in 2001, putting him in his mid to late 20’s. He is one of the older male bears to use Brooks River. He has a medium brown coat with a patch of blonder hair in the shape of a “7.” He is missing two canine teeth and the others are worn down. He also has a distinctive, floppy right ear.

Biography
480 Otis was the Fat Bear Week Champion in 2021, adding another crown to his previous three in 2014, 2016, and 2017. Despite his missing teeth, he is still successful at fishing and puts on significant weight each year. He returned to the falls looking much healthier than last year. As an older bear, he often yields space to more dominant bears. He successfully uses a more patient strategy, employing a sit-and-wait method to conserve the energy that is so valuable when trying to gain weight for the winter. 

 

747

A bear standing in water with many scars A bear standing in water with many scars

Left image
June 25, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of C. Rohdenburg

Right image
September 6, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Description
747 was first identified as a subadult in 2004, putting him in his mid 20s. He is the largest bear known to use Brooks River. He has a stocky build, short muzzle and a dark brown coat. He is heavily scarred and appeared at the river this year with tattered and torn ears. 

Biography
747 was the Fat Bear Champion in 2020. Due to his large size and his assertive disposition, he has ascended to the top of the hierarchy at Brooks Falls. The high concentration of salmon draws a large number of bears to the falls. In order to minimize conflict, bears establish a hierarchy where the most dominant bears gain the best access to fishing locations and mating opportunities. Unlike many bears, 747’s size alone is enough to intimidate most bears to yield their space. His dominance combined with his fishing skills allow him to build up substantial fat reserves for the winter. Even in early summer, he still carries the weight of his previous successes.

 

854 Divot

A bear standing in water A bear standing in water

Left image
July 4, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of K. Moore

Right image
August 17, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of K. Moore

Description
854 Divot was first identified as a two-and-a-half year old in 2004, making her approximately 20 years old. This bear has a straight muzzle with close-set eyes. Her most defining feature is a scar around her neck from a wire snare that had to be removed in 2014.

Biography
Like many bears, 854 Divot uses the river seasonally, following the salmon. In 2014, she appeared briefly with two yearlings but left shortly after. When she returned to Brooks, she only had one cub and an illegal wolf snare around her neck. Park rangers subsequently removed the snare but 854 still bears the resulting scar- a reminder of the impact of our presence and the challenges that bears face beyond Katmai’s boundaries. Despite these adversities, 854 was and continues to be a resilient and successful bear.

 

856

A bear walking in water A bear walking in water

Left image
July 1, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of C. Rohdenburg

Right image
September 11, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Description
856 was first seen at the river as a young adult in 2006, he is approximately 20 years old. 856 is a large male with a lighter brown coat and light-tipped ears. Like most bears, his autumn coat is darker, but he retains the light ears.

Biography
856 is one of the most dominant bears at the falls; his only real competition is 747. He is aggressive and protective of his fishing spots, especially with younger, smaller bears. 856’s intimidating demeanor helps him maintain his long-standing rank within the hierarchy. Unlike many male bears, 856 has relatively few scars, a sign that his presence alone is often enough to deter physical altercations. That being said, 856 will not shy away from confrontation when it’s to his benefit.

 

901

Bear standing on a rock in water Bear standing on a rock in water

Left image
June 24, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of C. Rohdenburg

Right image
September 18, 2022
Credit: NPS Photo/L. Law

Description
901 was first identified as a two-and-a-half year old subadult in 2018. She has blonde rimmed, triangular ears and her face is darker with a lighter muzzle.

Biography
Even as a young bear, 901 was independent and mature. She was observed charging other bears that tried to play with her and actively defended her fishing spots as a subadult. As an adult, she still displays much of that independence and disposition, as is evidenced by her successful fishing season. She is both exploratory and occasionally mischievous. This year, we saw her exhibiting these qualities by frequenting Brooks Camp and investigating human structures. Bears are curious creatures and while we have the privilege of watching bears in the wild, it’s important to remember that we are just visitors in their home.

 

909's Yearling Cub

A cub walking in water A cub walking in water

Left image
June 22, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Right image
September 18, 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of L. Law

Description

909’s cub was first seen at the river in 2021 as a female spring cub (first year cub). Now a yearling, she has a medium-brown coat with round fluffy ears. 

Biography

At the beginning of the season, 909's cub was often found at the falls with her mom. She bobs her head as she fishes, a trait she shares with 909. 909’s cub has already been seen catching a fish on her own in the river, including on the lip of the falls. This is a great accomplishment for a bear her age and a sign that she has quickly learned fishing techniques from her mother. This year she had an injury to one of her paws, but recovered quickly, demonstrating the resiliency of bears. As the season progressed, she has displayed increased independence as well as socialness with other bears, including playing with her cousin, 910’s cub. 909’s yearling has proven her independence and maturity this season, and has the potential to become a successful subadult next year.

 
**Note that some of these images have been flipped to provide a better slider experience

Last updated: October 11, 2022

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