July 3 — Some of Alaska’s most famous bears are back on camera.
The webcams of Katmai National Park and Preserve are rolling this season in higher definition and with more angles than in previous summers.
And the brown bears that feed on salmon began to appear.
On Tuesday, the Brooks Falls camera showed a close-up of a bear nodding back and forth at the base of the falls as the water of the frothy white river flowed, with over 1,000 viewers watching. were watching online.
The secluded park at the eastern end of the Alaska Peninsula draws visitors to its campground and viewing platforms to watch bears feeding on salmon and prepare for the long winter. Bears can gain over 2 pounds of fat each day in the summer and fall.
For those who won’t be making their way to Katmai’s bear viewing platforms in person, bear cameras come in handy.
Katmai bears have become even better known thanks to the annual Fat Bear Week contest. Last year’s competition – a parenthesis-style online tournament in which fans vote for their favorite towering contenders – was reportedly the biggest of all Fat Bear weeks. The bears gorged themselves all summer and Bear 747 reigned supreme.
Camera upgrades were supposed to take place last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily upended those plans, said Candice Rusch, director of new media at Explore.org, who works with the park to live stream the bears.
A new camera has been installed at Brooks Falls and the image quality is expected to be “dramatically improved,” Rusch said.
They also replaced and improved an underwater camera for salmon; turned the Dumpling Mountain camera back on; and upgraded the camera microphones, so the audio quality should be better.
“Basically everything out there is better for one reason or another,” Rusch said.
Additionally, the park is also resuming normal operations after a somewhat closed pandemic summer last year.
And it’s going to be busy, said Amber Kraft, interpretive and education program manager at Katmai.
“Our camping reservations are full from July through the end of the season, and so are lodge reservations,” Kraft said. “So we expect it to be a very busy and popular summer here.”