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Voting open now for Katmai’s Fat Bear Week

This year, eight portly residents of Alaska’s Brooks River are competing to be crowned the Fat Bear Week  2023 champion.

PARK CITY, Utah — With Katmai National Park and Preserve’s annual Fat Bear Week well underway, now is the time to cast your vote for your favorite chunky grizzly.

Fat Bear Week is a global tournament-style bracket competition started by the National Park Service in 2014, in which the public votes for their favorite fattest bear as the bears gear up for hibernation.

This year, eight portly residents of Alaska’s Brooks River are competing to be crowned the Fat Bear Week  2023 champion.

Voting is open Oct. 4-10. The new reigning champion will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. MST.

747, a bear that lives at the Katmai National Park and Preserve, and a contender in the 2023 Fat Bear Week competition. Photo: Katmai National Park and Preserve

Katmai’s brown bears are the fattest in late summer and early fall as they pack on the pounds to prepare for winter hibernation.

“During hibernation, bears do not eat or drink and can lose one-third of their body weight. Their winter survival depends on accumulating ample fat reserves before entering the den,” states the Fat Bear Week website. “Fat bears are successful bears. They exemplify the richness of Katmai National Park and Bristol Bay, Alaska, a wild region that is home to more brown bears than people and the largest, healthiest runs of sockeye salmon left on the planet.”

This year, the competition has a local tie. Kodiak Cakes, a Park City-based company known for its protein pancakes and waffles, is sponsoring Fat Bear Week.

Kodiak Cakes will donate 10 cents per vote, up to $100,000, to the Vital Ground’s grant making program, which supports bears and their habitat in the Katmai area. In 2022, over a million votes were cast in the Fat Bear Week tournament worldwide.

Watch the Brooks Falls brown bears in their natural habitat here.

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