A New Champion: Single mama bear, Grazer, wins Katmai National Park’s Fat Bear Week

The Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska hosts “Fat Bear Week,” an annual online contest to celebrate the remarkable fat-building skills of their brown bears, which are some of the largest in the world!

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“Grazer” took home the crown in the Katmai National Park’s 2023 Fat Bear Week competition.

Katmai National Park & Reserve

Each year, the Katmai National Park & Reserve in Alaska hosts an exciting online contest, “Fat Bear Week,” putting their biggest brown bears — some of the largest in the world—in a head-to-head poll to determine who is the biggest, baddest bear of them all!

“For bears, fat equals survival,” the National Parks Service explains. “Each winter, bears enter the den where they will not eat or drink until they emerge in spring. During this time, they may lose up to one-third of their body weight as they rely solely on their fat reserves. Survival depends on eating a year’s worth of food in six months.”

In the photo above, you can see Grazer’s incredible fat-building progress between July and September 2023. She looks like a totally different bear!

This year, a new champion was crowned in Fat Bear Week — “128 Grazer” an adult female bear (and a single mom!) who was introduced to the Brooks River area of the reserve as a cub in 2005. Since then, she has developed substantially in both size and reputation.

According to Grazer’s profile on Explore.org, while she may not be the heaviest bear in the park — what Grazer lacks in size, she makes up for in absolute grit. Not only is she one of the park’s most adept anglers, but she also does not need a daddy bear around to help protect her cubs.

“Grazer is a particularly defensive mother bear who has successfully raised two litters of cubs,” the site explains. “She often preemptively confronts and attacks much larger bears —even large and dominant adult males—in order to ensure her cubs are safe. Her behavior produced benefits beyond the protection of her cubs In summer 2023, many other bears remembered her reputation and Grazer maintained a high level of dominance even though she was single. For example, a large adult male, 151 Walker, regularly avoided her approach. Grazer’s combination of skill and toughness makes her one of Brooks River’s most formidable, successful, and adaptable bears.”

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