Bear 128, also known as Grazer, has won the Fattest Bear crown in Katmai National Park’s annual online contest.
Grazer beat out a very large Chunk in the title round.
Grazer made her first appearance at Brooks Falls as a cub in 2005, and has since grown into a force that even the large male bears will attempt to avoid. Grazer has developed a reputation as a fierce mother, and will launch a preemptive attack against even large males to protect her cubs. A fan favorite on the Bear Cam, Grazer is easily identified by her very blonde, round ears. Grazer has successfully raised two litters of cubs, but this year she was an empty-nester and having to only fend for herself led to a hefty weight gain. Comparing the image from July to that in September, makes you wonder just how many salmon that bear ate.
This is the first Fat Bear Title for Grazer. A record number of votes, 1,382,783 were tallied in this year’s Fat Bear Week.
Fat Bear Week returns to Katmai and Brooks Falls. The bears have all done their part to get as round as possible before hibernation. Snow fell in Fairbanks on Tuesday, so winter is just around the corner.
Voting starts today. Just jump on the link below to portal over to explore.org. There you can vote for your favorite chubby bruin, if you are so inclined.
Otis returned to Brooks Falls in Katmai on Wednesday. It was the first time he had been seen since last autumn. Otis, the Bear Cam favorite, is believed to be 27 years old. A winner of 4 Fat Bear titles, Otis last won two seasons ago.
Otis is arguably the most skilled fisher-bear in Katmai. His technique is effortless, and he wastes no energy as the old bruin fattens up for another hibernation.
Welcome back Otis. Your fan club has been waiting for you.
My visit to the Gila Wilderness and its cliff dwellings happened early on in the Original Beetle Roadtrip. In many ways it was in the Gila, that a 24 year old Aldo Leopold found his footing. As someone who really enjoyed Leopold’s writing, it was only a matter of time for me to visit the wilderness he proposed and the very first Federally recognized wilderness in the United States.
I found a nice place to camp in the national forest, driving the Beetle across a stream to limit my neighbors, and from that campsite, I explored the Gila.
Theodore Roosevelt designated the cliff dwellings a national monument in 1907. The monument is 533 acres, and had just over 41,000 visitors in 2016. To me, there seemed to be almost that many people there when I visited. It became a challenge to get a picture taken without a person in the frame, but I worked at it.
The dwellings are located in an absolutely beautiful part of New Mexico. It was easy for me to see why the Mogollon people settled here, and I wondered why they abandoned it years later.
Hiking the trail early in the morning, I was lucky enough to come across a black bear on its morning excursion. Later in the day, I met up with a couple who had seen a mountain lion. I was not at all surprised by either in this beautiful, rugged terrain.
Lake Clark National Park & Preserve is located approximately 100 miles southwest of Anchorage. Originally designated a National Monument in 1978, the area was named a national park by Congress in 1980 via the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.
The park itself is roughly 2.6 million acres, with an additional 1.4 million set aside as preserve, putting the total size at just over 4 million acres. In 2018, the park saw 14,000 visitors.
The Lake Clark area gained some degree of fame through the adventures of Dick Proenneke, who documented his homestead life at Twin Lakes before the area became a park. Proenneke not only kept detailed journals, but filmed his world in a documentary style. Alone in the Wilderness, the book about his life at Twin Lakes, and the PBS documentary of the same name were extremely well received by Alaskans and non-Alaskans alike. Not an easy thing to accomplish!
Lake Clark is a vital salmon hatchery for Bristol Bay, and is Alaska’s sixth largest lake at 42 miles long and a maximum depth of just over 1000 feet.
Lake Clark NP&P is also home to two active volcanoes. The ever rumbling Mount Redoubt and Iliamna volcano, which has been quiet of late.
Lake Clark NP&P is not road accessible. One can get to the park via floatplane or via boat from Cook Inlet.
Local reports have had several bear sightings this past week. The warmer temps and increased daylight have woke the bruins from their winter slumber. Only one casualty that I know of so far: A 50 pound bag of dog food that was left outside in a shed.
The photo was taken by an NPS employee out at Kennecott Mine in Wrangell-St Elias National Park & Preserve.
A bear cub recently tested positive for Avian Flu. The cub was seen struggling to keep up with its mother and siblings and Alaska Fish & Game officials euthanized the bear cub. Tests came back positive for a highly contagious strain known as “high-path AI.”
The bear cub, found in Bartlett Cove, within Glacier Bay National Park, would have died within hours if it had not been put down, according to wildlife officials. Since the virus does not jump from bear to bear, it is believed the cub scavenged a sick or dead bird.
One female black bear in Quebec had previously been diagnosed with Avian Influenza. In Alaska, two foxes, have tested positive.
Ethel LeCount was a nurse at the Kennecott Hospital at the Kennecott Mill Town in 1937-1938. LeCount shot many rolls of film during her stay out at the old copper mine. The National Park Service has posted some of them online, under the banner: “Ethel LeCount Historical Photo”s on the Wrangell-St-Elias website.