In Alaska, Otis, heavyweight champion of the brown bears

Otis won again! With 453 kilos under a surly mop, the plantigrade once again won Fat Bear Week, Alaska’s fattest bear competition. At 25, Otis crushed the competition for the fourth time, either Walker, the youngster who lacked niaque, and even 747, the defending champion, which takes its name from its form of Boeing.

An astonishing comeback: at the end of last winter, Otis had two missing teeth and nothing but the skin on his back. By dint of stuffing himself with whole salmon (40 daily) at the edge of the Brooks River, the champion has regained 2 kilos per day since June. A gentle hibernation awaits him. Forget about fashion week.

About 2,000 specimens

Fat Bear Week, which ended on October 5, was launched in 2014 by Katmai National Park, Alaska, a volcanic area frequented by brown bears, salmon coming up from Bristol Bay, and tourists who like to sit on the banks to admire the first swallow the second. The competition takes place online.

The public chooses their favorite mastodon according to the criteria of their choice. Failing to be on site at Brook Falls – the number of visitors is limited to 15,000 per summer – he has, at his disposal, hours of live video shot by the “Bear cam” from the nature defense NGO Explore. The cameras are posted at the edge of the waterfall which acts as a pantry. They are activated every day during the playoffs. Some voters vote according to their heart.

Fat Bear Week 2021 participants

“Otis is my man”, explains one supporter, who praises his minimalist way of appearing to take a nap while grabbing the fish. Amateurs campaign for their champion with fan art on social networks. “ Vote Holly! »(One of the few females in the club). “She’s going to break the glass ceiling just by stepping on it.” “ Others rather develop a scientific approach.

GIS (Geographic Information System) specialist Joel Cusick has developed a technique that borrows from the best sources of autonomous car engineering: liDAR, or laser remote sensing, which allows objects to be measured at a distance by emitting a beam of light returned to its point of emission.

“I tried, and when I got feedback from Otis’ hindquarters, I was like, ‘Wow, maybe that could work’ “, explained to the magazine High Country News the scientist after being stationed on the banks of the Brooks River. The technique could make school. Usually bears are weighed in the spring when they are starving. Still, you need a helicopter, a pulley system and a tranquilizer shot.

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