It’s summer. And they’re back.
After a long hibernation, the brown bears of Katmai National Park and Preserve have awoken. On Tuesday morning, the wildlife livestreamers explore.org turned on their cameras, located in the remote Alaskan woods. And folks, though the vigorous salmon run has yet to begin, we can already watch wild bears roaming the park’s Brooks River — though the majority of bears will start appearing in early July.
The bears spend much of their summer catching 4,500-calorie salmon, fattening up and transforming into rotund animals. To survive the long, brutal Alaskan winter — wherein the bears subsist entirely on their fat stores — putting on hundreds of pounds is essential.
A fat bear is a healthy bear. The park celebrates the bears’ perseverance and survival in the early fall with its annual Fat Bear Week contest.
The cameras already spotted a trio of well-known bears, one of which is building quite a legend at Katmai. It’s the female bear Grazer (bear 128) and her two grown-up cubs. Grazer is an extremely dominant bear who vies for the best fishing spots against some of the river’s biggest and boldest male bears, like the behemoth bear 747. She intimidates, and sometimes even attacks, bears that approach or threaten her cubs.
“This makes her one of the most dominant bears on the river,” Naomi Boak, the media ranger at Katmai National Park and Preserve, told Mashable in 2021.
What to expect on the bear cams this year
Bear activity usually ramps up in July, when salmon begin migrating up the river. Here’s what to expect when tuning into the bear cams, which are beamed from a remote, mostly roadless part of Alaska, to people globally:
July: The salmon run up the Brooks River kicks off in early July, and the bears start to congregate at the river to devour fat, 4,500-calorie sockeye salmon. It’s an exciting, phenomenal scene.
August: Often the Brooks River and bear cams quiet down in August, as the bears leave to capitalize on other fishing opportunities (the Brooks River salmon run can dwindle by late July). Though during the big salmon run years of late, many bears still stick around, even in August.
September: The bears, now often filled-out and rotund, return to the Brooks River (and bear cams) in great numbers to feast on dead and dying salmon. The winter looms large.
October: The bears continue to eat and start to hibernate. The park holds its annual Fat Bear Week contest, which celebrates the wildness and success of the impressively fat bears.
November: The callous Alaskan winter sets in, and the bears hibernate until early spring. The solar-powered bear cams, running low on sunlight, stop transmitting.