Unyielding Maternal Instincts Secure Grazer’s Victory in Alaska’s Famed Fat Bear Competition

by Andrew Wright
Fat Bear Week

In the quest for winter survival through substantial weight gain, Grazer has emerged as this year’s unrivaled victor.

Known by her alternate designation, Bear 128, Grazer triumphed in the Fat Bear Week contest hosted at Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. She decisively bested her opponent, Chunk, with a final tally of 108,321 votes to 23,134.

The yearly competition, which attracted over 1.3 million votes this season, serves as a celebration of the resilience exhibited by the brown bears inhabiting the preserve, located on Alaska’s expansive Peninsula that stretches southwestward towards the Aleutian Islands.

Throughout the summer, dedicated spectators are riveted to their computer displays, observing the bears accumulate weight by consuming salmon. The contest follows a tournament-style bracketing system, culminating in the crowning of the bear that has most successfully fattened up for the harsh winter months. Grazer was declared the champion this past Tuesday.

Grazer’s biographical information on Katmai National Park’s website elaborates that she is often among the heaviest bears frequenting the Brooks River within the preserve. Park authorities describe her as an exceptionally skilled fisher, willing to operate at all hours and from various locations along the river to even actively pursue salmon that attempt to escape.

She is one of approximately 2,200 brown bears that make Katmai their habitat.

Demonstrating fierce maternal instincts, Grazer has been observed confronting and attacking bears significantly larger than herself, including adult males, to ensure the safety of her offspring. She has successfully reared two litters of cubs utilizing her various skills.

This year’s competition faced potential postponement due to governmental issues. Had Congress not brokered an eleventh-hour agreement to avert a government shutdown at the close of September, the annual Fat Bear Week would have been delayed, as park personnel would have been prohibited from tallying votes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Fat Bear Week

Who won this year’s Fat Bear Week contest at Katmai National Park?

Grazer, also known as Bear 128, won the contest, defeating her closest competitor, Chunk, by a significant margin in the finals.

What is the purpose of the Fat Bear Week competition?

The annual Fat Bear Week contest serves to celebrate the resilience and survival skills of the brown bears residing in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. It draws attention to how these bears prepare for the harsh winter months.

How many votes were cast in this year’s competition?

This year’s competition drew more than 1.3 million votes from dedicated fans who follow the event.

How do bears qualify for the championship?

Bears are observed over the course of the summer as they consume salmon to gain weight. The contest employs a tournament-style bracketing system, leading to the eventual crowning of the bear that has gained the most weight.

What special skills does Grazer possess?

According to her biography on the Katmai National Park’s website, Grazer is an exceptionally skilled fisher, willing to operate day or night, from various parts of the river. She is often among the heaviest bears frequenting the Brooks River within the preserve.

How many brown bears inhabit Katmai National Park?

Approximately 2,200 brown bears make Katmai National Park and Preserve their home.

What would have happened to the contest if the government had shut down?

Had Congress not reached a last-minute deal to avert a government shutdown, the annual Fat Bear Week would have been postponed, as park personnel would have been prohibited from tallying votes.

Is Grazer known for any specific behavior?

Grazer is noted for her fierce maternal instincts, often confronting and even attacking larger bears, including adult males, to protect her cubs. She has successfully raised two litters of cubs.

More about Fat Bear Week

  • Fat Bear Week Official Site
  • Katmai National Park and Preserve
  • Grazer’s Biography at Katmai National Park
  • Voting Statistics for Fat Bear Week 2023
  • Alaska Peninsula Geography
  • Brown Bears in Alaska
  • Government Shutdown and Its Impact on National Parks

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Kelly M. October 14, 2023 - 10:18 am

Is it just me or does anyone else want to see Grazer and Chunk in a rematch next year? Also, 2200 bears in one park? Alaska’s wild, man.

Tim R. October 14, 2023 - 11:31 am

Love that the park does this every year. It’s a fun way to raise awareness about these incredible animals. But dang, government shutdown could’ve ruined it? get it together, Congress.

Steve A. October 14, 2023 - 1:54 pm

Grazer, the fishing expert! I can’t even catch a fish in a stocked pond haha. She’s got skills.

Jane D. October 14, 2023 - 11:15 pm

Wow, Grazer is a force of nature! Taking down Chunk like that, she’s def the queen of the bear world. I can’t believe the contest almost got cancelled, tho. Politics messing with bears, huh?

Mike S. October 15, 2023 - 6:31 am

Amazing how many votes this thing gets. 1.3 million? That’s more than some political elections lol.

Sarah W. October 15, 2023 - 6:39 am

Seriously, Grazer is mom goals. Attacking adult males to protect her cubs, you go girl!


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