Fat Bear Week 1978


Every fall, the brown bears of Katmai National Park embark upon one of the greatest food binges in the natural world. Entering a state of hyperphagia (hypereating), they pack on up to four pounds a day as they prepare to hibernate over the winter. Some bears weigh over 1000 pounds by the end of their feast, and they will lose about a third of that weight over the winter.


This Katmai bear footage comes from outtakes from the 1978 film “Backcountry Use.” NARA’s Harpers Ferry Center series includes several films from Katmai including “The Forge of Vulcan,” (not digitized), which focuses on the history of volcanic eruptions in the park. Fans of Alaska and bears may enjoy “One Man’s Alaska” (digitized), which profiles conservationist Richard Proenneke.


Since 2014, the National Park Service has celebrated Fat Bear Week, in which the public can vote on which Katmai bear is fattest. The vote is body-positive and subjective, as the bears tend to not want to get on a scale. (Although the bears can be digitally sized with LIDAR). Fat Bear Week Jr. 2022 starts on September 29, while the main “competition” starts October 5. For more information, see https://explore.org/fat-bear-week.

Brown bear at water’s edge near Brooks Falls Alaska, https://catalog.archives.gov/id/166699666

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