Meet Beadnose: Alaska's New Fat Bear Champion

Katmai National Park and Preserve, Flickr // Public Domain Mark 1.0
Katmai National Park and Preserve, Flickr // Public Domain Mark 1.0

Beadnose is a mama bear who loves chowing down on sockeye salmon in Alaska’s scenic Katmai National Park and Preserve. Now, thanks to her fondness for food, she’s the champion of this year’s Fat Bear contest, Smithsonian reports.

Each fall since 2014, the park has organized the competition on social media to highlight the gluttonous ways in which the preserve’s 2000-plus brown bears start bulking up for winter. The bears eat everything they can get their paws on and swell to their heaviest weight in October to prepare for hibernation.

This year, Beadnose (who goes by the number 409) was the fan favorite, having received the most “likes” on Facebook when up against other bears in the bracket-style contest. As the new heavyweight champion, she receives “stronger chances of living through the winter,” according to the park’s social media accounts.

“Bears must eat one year’s worth of food in six short months to survive hibernation, and 409 has excelled at that,” the park writes. “Her radiant rolls were deemed by the voting public to be this year’s most fabulous flab. Our chubby champ has a few more weeks to chow down on lingering salmon carcasses before she heads up the mountains to dig herself a den and savor her victory.”

A fat bear contest poster

Katmai National Park & Preserve, Flickr // Public Domain Mark 1.0

She beat out 11 other contenders chosen by park staff, including the aptly named Chunk and former fat bear champion Otis, whose body has been described as “walrus-shaped” by fans, according to Outside. The park says Beadnose “emancipated” her two cubs early in the summer, so she enjoyed the advantage of not having to share her food.

Want to see more of these BBBs (big beautiful bears) before they retreat into the nearby Dumpling Mountain caves to hibernate? Check out the park’s live Bear Cams online.

[h/t Smithsonian]

The Time German and Russian WWI Soldiers Banded Together to Fight Wolves

iStock.com/567185
iStock.com/567185

During the winter of 1917, Russian and German soldiers fighting in the dreary trenches of the Great War’s Eastern Front had a lot to fear: enemy bullets, trench foot, frostbite, countless diseases, shrapnel, bayonets, tanks, sniper fire. Oh, and wolves.

In February of that year, a dispatch from Berlin noted that large packs of wolves were creeping from the forests of Lithuania and Volhynia into the interior of the German Empire, not far from the front lines. Like so many living creatures, the animals had been driven from their homes by the war and were now simply looking for something to eat. “As the beasts are very hungry, they penetrate into the villages and kill calves, sheep, goats, and other livestock,” the report, which appeared in the El Paso Herald, says. “In two cases children have been attacked by them.”

According to another dispatch out of St. Petersburg, the wolves were such a nuisance on the battlefield that they were one of the few things that could bring soldiers from both sides together. “Parties of Russian and German scouts met recently and were hotly engaged in a skirmish when a large pack of wolves dashed on the scene and attacked the wounded,” the report says, according to the Oklahoma City Times. “Hostilities were at once suspended and Germans and Russians instinctively attacked the pack, killing about 50 wolves.” It was an unspoken agreement among snipers that, if the Russians and Germans decided to engage in a collective wolf-hunt, all firing would cease.

Take this July 1917 New York Times report describing how soldiers in the Kovno-Wilna Minsk district (near modern Vilnius, Lithuania) decided to cease hostilities to fight this furry common enemy:

"Poison, rifle fire, hand grenades, and even machine guns were successively tried in attempts to eradicate the nuisance. But all to no avail. The wolves—nowhere to be found quite so large and powerful as in Russia—were desperate in their hunger and regardless of danger. Fresh packs would appear in place of those that were killed by the Russian and German troops.

"As a last resort, the two adversaries, with the consent of their commanders, entered into negotiations for an armistice and joined forces to overcome the wolf plague. For a short time there was peace. And in no haphazard fashion was the task of vanquishing the mutual foe undertaken. The wolves were gradually rounded up, and eventually several hundred of them were killed. The others fled in all directions, making their escape from carnage the like of which they had never encountered."

Afterward, the soldiers presumably returned to their posts and resumed pointing their rifles at a more violent and dangerous enemy—each other.

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