The bears have been announced! The competitors for this year’s Fat Bear Week competition are ready to face off for the prize of ultimate fat bear. Every year there is a healthy mix of new and familiar faces. Last year’s winner, Otis is back in the running along with regulars 32 Chunk, 435 Holly, and more.
There will be four matchups in the first round. These bears will have to earn their keep before they make it to the next round. If they win their first round, they will go on to face some of the more senior bears head to head; bears like last year’s winner Otis and fan favorite 435 Holly. How far can they go?
Younger and still finding their way, newcomers to the competition like 164 have to come up with creative ways to fish. Older bears often have first dibs on the best fishing spots on Brooks River so in turn 164 has developed his own unique way of fishing. The 2 and a half year-old bear has started fishing at a spot no other bear has ever been seen using. Standing at the base of the deepest plunge pool he will jump up to catch the salmon or drop down on top of them. His innovation has earned him a coveted spot in the bracket.
It’s creativity like this that makes Fat Bear Week such an interesting spectacle, each bear must do what they can to survive amongst heavy competition. Even the more senior bears like 856, who was considered the most dominant bear of Brooks River for the better part of the last decade, are still having to fight for the best fishing spots. 856 has faced challenge from long-time rival 747, another large adult male (and opponent for the first round) and in 2021 was knocked from the top spot. This won’t keep him down though, he still frequently challenges 747 for the best fishing spots. Despite the danger and competition of other bears, 856 remains resilient. 747 will face off against 32 Chunk in the next round.
Will the familiar faces take the top spot in the second round or will some of the other bears usurp them? Bears like 854 Divot are certainly doing their best to come out on top. Another one of the more senior bears, Divot has been spotted fishing in Brooks River since 2004. Like a lot of the other bears, Divot is used to the presence of people and has no problem standing her ground against them or other bears when it comes to fishing. With a large scar encompassing her neck, Divot is noticeable amongst the others. In 2014, she wandered outside of the park boundaries and unfortunately got her head caught in a wire trapping snare. She managed to break free of the anchor, but still had to deal with wiring around her neck. Park rangers and biologists were able to step in and help once this was spotted. Tranquilizing Divot, they managed to remove the trap and she has since recovered and gone on to thrive amongst her peers in the forest. Yet another example of the bears facing adversity and coming out on top.
New to this year’s competition was the Fat Bear Jr. bracket. Similar to the big bear category, this was a bracket of only bear cubs and showing the growth they’d had over the summer season. The winner of this close bracket was 909’s yearling! First spotted at Brooks river in 2021, she has a medium-brown coat with adorably fluffy ears. She hangs out at the river catching with her mom, picking up tips. Despite a paw injury this year, she continues to thrive and show she has what it takes to kick it with the big bears in the main Fat Bear competition.
909’s Yearling will face off against 901, a medium sized female bear. 901 is a young bear at 2 and a half and still finding her way in the world. She’s shaping up her fishing technique and expanding her social skills as she matures. 901 is at the age where she can start having cubs herself, though it is not known which bears have produced offspring until after they hibernate for the winter. Fans eagerly await to see new cubs added to the thriving ecosystem of Katmai National Park.
So whether your preference is the senior bears like Otis who have dominated the Brooks River for years or you’re cheering for the newbies like 909’s Yearling, vote in Fat Bear Week to see your favorite rise to the top. All of the competing bears come with unique, inspiring stories of perseverance and we can’t wait to see who comes out on top.
There’s only room for one winner and come Tuesday October 11th, there will be a new Fat Bear crowned champion. Will it be Otis again? Or will a newcomer steal the spotlight? Keep your eye on the brackets to find out!
Vote for your favorite fat bears here.