Fat Bear Week has crowned its 2019 winner

KING SALMON, AK - The winner of Fat Bear Week, an annual competition held by the Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska for the fattest bear of the state's Brooks River, has been officially crowned.

No. 435 aka Holly has been named the queen of Fat Bear Week 2019!

Alaska's brown bears are the largest brown bears and eat up to 90 pounds of food each day, including other smaller mammals, salmon, berries, flowers, and herbs.

"There is no shame in winning this contest as large amounts of body fat in brown bears is indicative of good health and strong chances of survival," the National Park Service said in a press release.

"During winter hibernation, which can last for up to half of the year in their den, a bear could lose up to one-third of its body mass. In preparation, the bears are entering hyperphagia this time of year, a state in which they eat nearly non-stop."

The park, famous for its volcanoes, magical wilderness, and brown bears, kicked off the competition five years ago.

It holds one of the largest concentrations of brown bears in the world, according to the release.

Male brown bears weigh anywhere from 600 to 900 pounds and by the time they go into hibernation and can jump up to a staggering 1000 pounds, NPS said. Adult females usually weigh about a third less. The bears often get so big, that they have to dig a hole to stuff their belly in when they lay down to rest.

And here's a little more about the park's bears, from former Katmai park ranger Mike Fitz:

"We continue to see the stories of individual bears unfold along the river. Bear 402 utilizes her two decades of experience to raise her three yearlings while one young bear, 719, is experiencing motherhood for the first time.

"At Brook Falls, the hierarchy continues to shuffle," Fitz said. "Bear 856, a large and assertive adult male, continues to reign at the top, but he's nearly 20 years old. How long will he be able to maintain his position as the river's most dominant bear?"

As a friendly reminder, the park said: "Fat bears only exist because of clean water and healthy ecosystems."

Climate change, for example, poses a big threat to these glorious creatures.

As the sea ice melts and polar bears find themselves on land more often, they begin to compete with brown bears for food.

"Such changes in food selection can result in large ecosystem changes as species adapted to be prey no longer have population control from predators, and other species suffer reduced populations due to additional predation," NPS said.

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