The chonkiest of the chonkiest ursine powerhouses are back. That’s right, it’s FAT BEAR WEEK. The annual celebration of Katmai National Park and Preserve’s grizzlies preparing to hibernate began Wednesday and continues through Tuesday, October 11, with daily matchups between the absolute units gorging themselves on the salmon running through the park. Aside from the obvious seriousness of the competition itself, Fat Bear Week also highlights the threats climate change poses to grizzlies, including shortening their hybernations and impacting salmon populations.
“Salmon are especially vulnerable to increased temperatures and reduced precipitation and whatever affects the salmon, will affect the bears of Brooks River,” KNP’s Amber Kraft told Grid News. It’s also a positive example of the importance of conservation, Kraft told Smithsonian Magazine. “A lot of the time, the messages around climate change and the need for conservation are about all these things that are going wrong. This is a story of, ‘Here, things are working—and let’s keep it that way.’” (Grid, Smithsonian Magazine, Gizmodo, USA Today, Mashable, Insider, Washington Post $, NPR, Alaska Public Media, E&E $, Economist)