"She stuffed so much salmon in her face": Fat Bear Week 2023 has a winner – and she's a real bruiser

Fat Bear Week 2023 winner, 128 Grazer
128 Grazer's resilience and strength is described as the epitome of Katmai’s grizzly bears (Image credit: NPS/Jimenez)

It's official, Fat Bear Week 2023 has crowned the winner of its weeklong contest –  and she's a real bruiser. After seven days of defending her territory in the Brooks River in order to chow down on as many sockeye salmon as she could get her paws and jaws on, a female bear named 128 Grazer is looking sufficiently paunchy to spend the winter in torpor and emerge victorious next spring.

Emerging victorious was no easy feat – Grazer duked it out against 11 other burly bears that live in Katmai National Park, including previous two-time chonky champion 744. Ultimately, however, he proved no match for Grazer's prowess and strength.

"Grazer’s combination of skill and toughness makes her one of Brooks River’s most formidable, successful, and adaptable bears," writes the NPS on Facebook. In fact, Grazer has such a daunting presence that a large adult male named 151 Walker regularly avoided her approach over the last week.

"With a dominant performance (we haven't seen a walk like that since Jurassic Park), Grazer’s resilience and strength is the epitome of Katmai’s brown bears."

According to Explore.org, the hosts of Fat Bear Week, Grazer was introduced to Brooks River as a cub in 2005 and has become one of the best anglers at Brooks River, able to chase down fleeing salmon in many parts of the river and patiently scavenge dead and dying salmon after they spawn. She's so persistent she will also fish overnight at Brooks Falls.

Grazer has successfully raised two litters of cubs and is often seen pre-emptively confronting and attacking much larger bears in the their defense. This is one chunky champion not to be reckoned with.

That's a wrap for Fat Bear Week 2023, but if you can't wait until next year for more bear action, don't forget the live webcam streams year round in Katmai for your viewing pleasure.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.