Alaskan National Park Crowns Fattest Bear After Fat Bear Week 2018
Let’s talk about bears. Huge, lumbering beasts that look cuddly and cute, but are also, pound for pound, one of the most deadly apex predators on the planet. They are big and they eat a lot.
In Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Reserve, they claim to have the largest population of brown bears in the world. Somewhere around 2,200 of them. In order to bear such a hungry population, Katmai has huge and closely concentrated natural sources of food. Bears aren’t particularly fond of trekking long distances to find food, so this park is a pretty good spot for them.
“By and large, if you’re gonna be a bear, Katmai National Park is a good place to be one. The access to food resources allows these bears to be some of the biggest in the world,” said park ranger Andrew LaValle after noting some record-breaking salmon runs swimming through the park over the past couple years.
Human beings eat a lot of meat, with 2018 consumption projections reaching beyond 200 hundred pounds per year. That’s such child’s play to the bears at Katmai that four years ago the park started an annual fattest bear competition. Endearingly called Fat Bear Week, it starts with 12 bears who are remarkably robust and voting via social media slims down the competition until the fattest bear is crowned.
Before you decry them for body-shaming bears, the competition is meant to be fun while educating people on the intense conditions bears live through. After hibernation, bears lose one-third of their body weight. Then, they only have a few months to regain all that mass — and then some — to ensure they survive winter hibernation. Bears don’t have the luxury that one out of ten of us who rent temperature controlled storage is afforded. They hibernate in the best places they can find, which, in Alaska, are still harsh winter environments. So right now, they’re in crunch time as the temperatures get colder. And these bears are beefy to behold.
The two finalists, known as Bear 409 Beadnose and Bear 747, were the champions of chunk, but a winner still needed to be crowned. They don’t actually have the bears step on scales or anything, but best estimates put both of them over 1,000 pounds. A human being carrying 10-kilogram box puts 180 kilograms of force on the spine; meanwhile, Bear 747 was so large that his belly hung mere inches from the ground, his spine bearing weight so hefty we’re not shocked he walked around as minimally as possible. Similarly sized, Bear 409 is also currently fond of sitting and moving around very little.
When the votes were tallied, Bear 409 was crowned the fattest bear. A lady-bear who had raised four multiple birth litters of cubs, Bear 409 was the crowd favorite, winning against Bear 747 by a margin of nearly 4,000 likes on Facebook.
“Her radiant rolls were deemed by the voting public to be this year’s most fabulous flab. Our chubby champ has a few more weeks to chow down on lingering salmon carcasses before she heads up the mountains to dig herself a den and savor her victory,” the national park posted on Facebook.
Congratulations Bear 409. Grab a few final bites and enjoy your lengthy nap. You’ve earned it.
Image Source: Katmai National Park & Reserve