Thursday, October 7, 2021

And The Winner Is...!

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Wildlife, Biodiversity, Nature

Ed Hessler

You probably know that Otis won the 2021 Fat Bear Contest. He is one of the bears of Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park and Preserve, AK who spend summer summers eating their way to winter's long sleep.

Below are the vote totals and it wasn't close. Otis entered as a sentimental favorite--a bear hard not to love and cheer for.

Otis, Bear #480: 51230 votes

Walker, Bear #151, 44834 votes

The contestant's biographies may be read here--scroll down to learn more about Otis and Walker.

Otis, Bear #480.  Two photos of Otis, early and late in the fishing season were submitted to voters: July 26 2021 and September 15 2021. Otis is one of the oldest bears in the park and in recent years a common question at the start of the fishing season is "Has anyone seen Otis?" He was very late this year and the question was asked with concern.. How sweet it is when he is reported still alive. Otis won the Fat Bear contest in 2014, 2016 and 2017. He fishes at at large disadvantage and below you will notice that he is missing two canine teeth and that his other teeth are badly worn. His fishing strategy is patience, locating a good fishing hole, and no chasing which expends precious energy--let the salmon come to you.

Walker, Bear #151. Two photos of Walker, early and late in the fishing season were submitted to voters: July 4 2021 and September 13, 2021. Walker is a very large adult male, one of the largest on the Brooks River. He was tolerant of others in his early years but is now very assertive and aggressive in his encounters. Among his fishing spots is the lip of Brooks Falls but he fishes in many places and uses a variety of strategies.

Here is the winning photo of the Champ with a fish in his mouth. How he manages to fish successfully as ill-equipped as he is, demonstrates what he has learned over the years, including his persistence.

In this video (3m 3s) meet Otis, Bear #480 and in this video (2m 57s), meet Walker, Bear #151) Here are some FAQs about the Brooks Falls bears.

I hope Otis has another good winter--the before and after photos of both bears give you an idea of the energy expended to keep a bear alive during their long sleep. Otis was particularly thin this past spring. Indeed I hope all the bears have a good winter.

Sweet dreams to them all.

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