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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Fat bear week is an internet phenomenon and a scientific one too

An undated photo shows Bear 747 in 2020, one of the largest brown bears on Earth, perhaps weighing as much as 1,400 pounds. In 2014, Mike Fitz, a former park ranger at Katmai National Park in Alaska, founded Fat Bear Week, a bracket-style elimination contest that pits the bulkiest bears of Katmai against one another, with the public casting their votes on a website hosted by explore.org.  (LIAN LAW/NATIONAL PARK SERVICE)
An undated photo shows Bear 747 in 2020, one of the largest brown bears on Earth, perhaps weighing as much as 1,400 pounds. In 2014, Mike Fitz, a former park ranger at Katmai National Park in Alaska, founded Fat Bear Week, a bracket-style elimination contest that pits the bulkiest bears of Katmai against one another, with the public casting their votes on a website hosted by explore.org. (LIAN LAW/NATIONAL PARK SERVICE)
Staff Reports

The bears are fat and the votes are pouring in.

For the ninth year in a row, you can vote on your favorite fat bear in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. The park, which is 4.1 million acres and is about 300 miles southwest of Anchorage, is home to more than 2,200 brown bears (coastal variant of the grizzly bear), one of the largest populations of the species in the world.

The bracket-style contest allows the public to vote on their favorite bulky bear. Last year’s contest garnered more than 600,000 votes. The public votes on a website hosted by explore.org and the bear with the most votes advances to the next round. Voting began Wednesday, and the winner will be announced Tuesday.

While the event is a fun, lighthearted affair, it also educates the general public about the bears and in some instances, provides scientists with important information about bear diets and health.

To vote, visit explore.org/fat-bear-week. A parent or guardian must OK your vote because an email address is required for submission. Each address gets one vote per day. The site also has details on live chats about the bears (beginning Wednesday), ideas for classroom activities and other links.

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