Fat Bear Week will soon begin. Between September 29 and October 5, each of us can vote for the chubbiest brown bear in Alaska’s Katmai National Park.
A fun competition, the contest is also about some weighty issues.
Fat Bear Week
The contest began in 2014 to teach us a bit about ursine health. Just before temperatures drop below freezing and a 6-month hibernation is imminent, brown bears eat as much as 120 pounds of salmon a day. Scientists are curious about why brown bears fare so well after such a long snooze. Their research relates to our cardiovascular health, obesity, space medicine, and bed-ridden patients.
This 4.5-minute video introduces some of the 2021 Fat Bear contenders:
In the following before and after images, you can see three-time champ Otis. He won in 2014, 2016, and 2017 while Holly was #1 in 2019:
747 won last year:
In my favorite video, (the legendary) Otis very carefully eats one fish:
And these salmon catches are amazing:
Our Bottom Line: Tradeoffs
The Biden Administration just reversed one of President Trump’s decisions. They suspended the oil and gas leases that had the go ahead in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. They are also in the process of reinstating protection of the Bristol Bay watershed. While oil, gas, and mining development would have generated jobs and revenue, the sockeye salmon habitat where the brown bears feast would have been devastated.
An economist would say that because of scarcity, we have to make tradeoffs. Since there is a limited quantity of most goods and services, “choosing is refusing.” Shown on a production possibilities graph, more of one item means less of another one. Below you can see that as you move along the curve, you sacrifice more minerals for more wilderness:
And, it also would have meant less food for Otis, Holly, and their brown bear friends.
My sources and more: Last year, I learned about Fat Bear Week and am delighted to return (and vote). The explore website has all of the facts, links, and details on each bear. Meanwhile, there is more about the Biden decision here and here.
Our featured image is 747, the 2020 champ. Also please note that today’s post is an updated copy of what we wrote last year.