Fat Bear Week 2022: It’s time to vote

(CNN) – Spring is for skinny bears and March Madness for basketball.

Fall, however, is for fat bears — and with Katmai National Park & ​​Preserve’s annual Fat Bear Week and tournament to crown a fat bear champion in 2022.

And unlike this basketball tournament, you can participate in this competition and make an impact. Online public voting will begin on Wednesday.

The contest is “a way to celebrate the resilience, adaptability and strength of Katmai’s brown bears,” the park says on its website.

The 12 heavyweights have been training for the big event since emerging from hibernation, feeding on all the salmon and other foods nature has to offer in this park on Alaska’s southwest coast.

Katmai does social media promotion like Twitter with brackets and jobs.

For example, 32 Chunk is “consistently one of the largest and most dominant bears on the falls. In previous years, he weighed approximately 1,200 kg in the fall. He often takes the best fishing spots on the river and has the best mating opportunities.”

And unlike March Madness with separate men’s and women’s teams, the Bears are entered in the same competition.

Meet the 128 Grazer competitor. His photo was taken on September 10, 2022.

Courtesy L. Law/Katmai National Park

The park says, “The 128 Grazer is one of the largest and most dominant females in the fishery [Brooks Falls]. She can be a particularly defensive and strong bear when she has cubs, or defends a prime fishing spot.”

Voting will begin on Wednesday at noon and will continue until October 11. Click here to see the pairings and voting instructions.

In Katmai, the Brooks River gives these brown bears a living.

“Perhaps no other river on Earth offers bears the opportunity to feed on salmon for so long,” the polling site explained.

480 Otis put on the pounds by September 14, 2022.

480 Otis put on the pounds by September 14, 2022.

Courtesy L. Law/Katmai National Park

The live cam from the river is a popular online feature, drawing over 900 viewers on a Tuesday at 7.45pm, for example.

The competition is a fun way to highlight the pace of bear life as they prepare for winter hibernation.

During this time, “bears do not eat or drink and can lose up to a third of their body weight,” the website says. “Their winter survival depends on building up extensive fat reserves before they go into the dunghill.”

The 2021 winner of the competition was the 480 Otis, a classy veteran who also dominated with victories in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

Image above: 32 Chunk was nicely fatted by September 9, 2022. (Photo by L. Law)