Guess the Cover Bear: Winners

Most of the bears who use Brooks River in Katmai National Park are known individuals that return to fish for salmon year after year. Many return for their entire lives, and their stories are an integral part of my book, The Bears of Brooks Falls. Last month, I invited readers to guess the identities of the bears on the print and audio covers. I placed entrants into separate drawings for the chance to win free copies of the print and audio book as well as a personalized signed copy of the print book. Here are the answers and the lucky winners.

On the print book cover, two of the three bears are fairly distinctive yet all three are legends.

Book Cover. Background image shows three bears at edge of waterfall while one salmon jumps out of the water. Text is "The Bears of Brooks Falls: Wildlife and Survival on Alaska's Brooks River; Michael Fitz"

Sitting below the falls is everyone’s favorite example of patience and efficiency, 480 Otis. His face is a bit obscured due to the camera angle. The photo was also taken before he acquired a bit of a wonky right ear, but you might recognize his classic Eeyore-like posture.

screen shot of corner of book cover. Bear sits at lower left at base of waterfall. Text says, "Wildlife and Survival on Alaska's Brooks River | Michael Fitz."

Standing on the lip of the falls at upper left is 6 Headbob, a bear identified as a young adult male in 1988. When I first saw him in 2007, Headbob was a large and skilled angler who had free access to his preferred spot on the lip. (I do wonder how he would’ve fared if he had to compete with Grazer this year.) Headbob was one of the first bears to teach me about longevity and survival for older individuals in this long-lived species.

Screen shot of section of book cover. Bear stands on edge of waterfall at upper left. Text says, "The Bears of

The other bear on the lip is difficult to identify. In this photo he’s a young adult soon to mature into one the river’s most dominant bears. It is 856. Starting in 2011, he reigned as the river’s most dominant bear for most of a decade. No one predicted his rise to the top of the hierarchy. Even though 856 took a slight step back this summer and began to yield to the mighty 747, it may be many years before we encounter another bear with a similar combination of his size, assertiveness, and fighting skills.

Screen shot of section of book cover. Bear stands on edge of waterfall at upper left.
photo of bear standing in flowing water. Bear is walking toward
This National Park Service photo of 856 was taken on July 6, 2006. The difference in 856’s coat color between this photo and the book cover is due to shedding. Brown bears shed their fur in early summer, so the audio book cover was likely taken in late July 2006 or 2007.

Now to the audio book cover. At upper right is 489 Ted and at lower left we see 32 Chunk. Ted is recognizable by his triangle-shaped ears and distinctive scar on his left hip.

Book Cover. Background image shows two bears standing in shallow white water. Text is "The Bears of Brooks Falls: Wildlife and Survival on Alaska's Brooks River; Michael Fitz; read by John Pruden."

His scar, notably, is the remnant of a large wound he received in 2007. Fair warning: the video is gasp worthy. Ted showcased a bear’s ability to get on with life despite pain.

Bear standing in shallow water in a corner of a waterfall. Bear is facing toward camera and has large flap of skin hanging from its left hip.
Bear 489 Ted on August 3, 2007. National Park Service photo.

Chunk is a bit harder to identify. In this photo, he has no obvious distinctive features like Ted. Instead, I recognize him by his face and body shape. Even during his subadult and young adult years, Chunk always had a pear-shaped body.

Screen shot of section of book cover. Bear stands in foamy water facing the camera.

Since Ted’s wound is relatively small in the cover photo and he was last seen in 2013 and since Chunk appears to be a sizable young adult, then this places the photo sometime during 2011 – 2013.

Only one person correctly identified all the bears on the print book cover. Congratulations to Mariah Denhart from California for correctly identifying all the bears on the print book cover. She receives a personalized signed copy from yours truly. No one correctly guessed the both cover bears on the audio book, so I placed all entrants from that category with at least one correct ID into a separate drawing. Congratulations to Jolene Nagle from West Virginia who wins a free copy of the audio book. Lastly, congratulations to Mike Hass from Oklahoma who wins a free print book from a drawing of all “Guess the Cover Bear” entrants. I’ll be touch with each winner via email with more details.

Thank you to everyone who participated. I’ve been overjoyed by the positive notes and reactions that have been sent my way about the book. Most importantly, though, I hope it enhances your understanding of Brooks River, its bears, and your bearcam watching experience on explore.org. May it inspire you to protect this special place for bears, salmon, people, and all the area’s inhabitants now in the future.

PS: Bearcam fan and sometimes National Park Service volunteer Stacey Schmeidel has been leading a book club about The Bears of Brooks Falls this summer. The next meeting is September 11 when the club discusses Chapter 11: Keystone. Please sign up for the Zoom meeting if you want to participate.

4 thoughts on “Guess the Cover Bear: Winners

  1. The Explore cams have opened a new world of education and entertainment for me. Although I am no longer physically able to travel as I wish I could, Explore has taken me to places I would otherwise never see. Especially Brooks Falls and area. Mike, thank you for your well spoken tutorials and especially your Bears Of Brooks Falls book You have made so much knowledge available and understandable. I am happy to be a part of this like minded family. Thank You all.

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  2. Congratulations to the winners! And a comment from my 86-year-old mum, who is a retired book editor: “This is one of the most beautiful book covers I’ve ever seen. The picture is breathtaking and the salmon jumping between the letters ‘B’ and ‘E’ is absolutely amazing.” There you go. And authors, as well as graphic artists, were afraid of her in her time, she would grazer them every day for breakfast 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Oh, That is Bear 747 | Wandering at Large

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