Fat Bear Week’s bears survived a historically hot summer

Despite the online excitement about Katmai National Park’s fat bears this year, the critters struggled harder than usual to plump up. The heat hit an important bear food source — salmon — hard, and that makes the bears’ future uncertain.

Last July was the hottest month ever in Alaska — bringing a longer-than-usual fire season and the state’s first “extreme” drought. To beat the heat, bears spent more time than usual lounging, which may have cut into their time foraging for food. And Alaska’s salmon, a favorite bear treat, were found dead along rivers and streams before getting upstream far enough to spawn.

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