(CNN) — Voting is over in Katmai National Park & Preserve’s annual Fat Bear Week contest, in which the public picks from 12 big ‘n’ bulky bears in an online brackets-style tournament.
The 2023 winner is a defensive mama bear who has successfully raised two litters of cubs and who “often preemptively confronts and attacks much larger bears — even large and dominant adult males,” according to the National Park Service.
Her name is 128 Grazer, and she blew her final competitor – 32 Chunk – straight out of the salmon-filled waters they both like to fish. Grazer received 108,321 votes to Chunk’s 23,134 votes, according to Explore.org, which tabulates the online contest for the NPS.
Grazer was first identified as one the bears dining in Katmai’s Brooks River in 2005as young cub. “Since then, she’s become one of the best anglers at Brooks River. She can fish successfully in many locations,” the Park Service says.
The year, Grazer was flying solo with no cubs to protect, but the other bears remembered her fierce devotion to her litter. They gave her a lot of leeway, allowing her prime spots and opportunities to fatten up on salmon.
The public apparently took notice and delivered her a huge win.
Grazer’s competition in the final round was Chunk, an up-and-comer with an “enigmatic” history with other bears.
The male was first identified in 2007 as “an independent, chunky-looking 2.5-year-old bear.” He sometimes played with other bears or would patiently wait to scavenge leftover salmon. He was often unwilling to challenge other bears for top feeding spots, though.
Chunk got more assertive in 2023, the NPS said, and it really paid off. Even Bear 747 – the 2022 Fat Bear Week champ – yielded fishing spots and salmon to him. It was enough to get him a low-hanging belly and a spot in the final round.
Meanwhile, Bear 747 was eliminated in his first round of play this year, showing again no bear can rest on his or her feasting laurels. With winter hibernation looming, it’s truly a bear-eat-bear world out there.
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Meet Fat Bear Week's 2022 Winner
Video Source: Advocate Channel