A brown bear from Alaska has been dubbed the fattest bear in America by an online poll conducted on Facebook. Voters were apparently impressed by the extra fat that the bear had accumulated in preparation for the hibernation season.
Choosing America’s fattest bear
The bear, nicknamed 409 Beadnose, lives in the Katmai National Park in Alaska, which is home to about 2,000 brown bears. The park had uploaded a gif of 409 that depicted her weight gain between June 29 and September 30. Twitter was mightily impressed at Beadnose’s extra flab and the post received about 150K likes.
When some people inquired whether the bear was pregnant, park officials made it clear that the animal had only fattened up in preparation for the long hibernation. “Bears practice delayed implantation and the egg will only attach to the uterus if the mama is fat enough when she goes into the den to hibernate. Safe to say, 409 could implant those eggs in the den this winter!” Katmai National Park says in a Twitter post.
Alaskan brown bears are known to hibernate for a period of up to seven months in the coldest of regions. During hibernation, their body temperature drops by 8 to 12 degrees. The body breaks down the accumulated fats to meet its energy needs. The bears usually don’t drink, eat, urinate, or defecate during the hibernation period.
Some voters have criticized the images uploaded by the park authorities claiming that the bears were not shot at the same angle. For instance, while one bear might be photographed in a standing pose, others would be photographed seated. However, park authorities dismissed such opinions saying that taking perfect photos of every bear would be impossible.
“The reality is, unless we got all the bears to line up into a single file line on the same day, we’re not going to have the exact same photos,” park ranger Andrew LaValle says in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News, while joking that he would try calling them, “but the bears haven’t responded to my phone calls.”
The brown bears of America
Almost 95 percent of the brown bear population in America can be found in a single state — Alaska. According to estimates, there are about 32,000 brown bears in the region. When it comes to the contiguous United States, these animals are typically found in only five ecosystems, numbering just over 1,700. The largest population in the contiguous U.S. is found at Yellowstone, where there are about 670 to 840 bears.
Brown bears were historically hunted down for their meat, hide, and as hunting trophies. Over time, most regions of the U.S. except Alaska lost a large number of their brown bears. The 1,700 bears that live in the contiguous United States continue to face the threat of extinction. And being spread across five ecosystems, the genetic flow between different groups is also not possible, thereby resulting in a low genetic diversity among the bear population.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates the global brown bear population to be around 200,000. However, the animal has not yet been classified as a threatened species.