Katmai National Park & Preserve's Fat Bear Week gets bigger and bigger

Fat Bear Week winner

As the Thompson-Okanagan deals with near-record black bear-human conflicts this year, it's a different story in Alaska.

The Katmai National Park and Preserve have found a way to celebrate its bears, in fact, every year at this time a new bear wins the title of Fattest Bear.

The competition started back in 2014 as a single-day event and has now grown into a weeklong, online competition that garnered more than 600,000 votes last year.

The park is trying to generate interest in all things bear and Fat Bear Week boils down to a week of honouring what it takes for a bear to survive.

The event is a single-elimination seven-day event between bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve that are fattening up for winter.

The park's Facebook page indicates that choosing a dozen bears from the 94 that were identified along the Brooks River is no easy feat.

"Choosing just twelve to feature in Fat Bear Week is always difficult since each has such an individual story," states the Facebook post.

This year's winner was number 480 Otis, who defeated Walker bear number 151 in the final vote. This is the fourth time Otis has won the contest no small feat given the fact that he is missing two canine teeth and his other teeth are badly worn.

The park is part of the Bristol Bay watershed, which supports the healthiest and largest run of sockeye salmon in the world. Bears everywhere fatten up before they hibernate, these bears get to gorge on salmon which helps them pack on the pounds so they emerge healthier in the spring.

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