Oh, That is Bear 747

Unlike too many (i.e. most) of our politicians, I’ll admit a mistake. New evidence has recently emerged—well not really since the evidence was always there, I just failed to notice it—that I incorrectly identified one of the bears on the cover of my audio book. Here’s how that happened.

In my last post, I noted that 32 Chunk is at lower left on the cover. I based the identification on the bear’s swept back ears, face, and light bulb shaped body, all traits that I associated with Chunk in his younger days. However, I neglected to note the prominent wounds on the bear’s forehead and right side, which Chunk did not have when the photo was taken.

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."

Typically, only the largest wounds produce lasting and conspicuous scars on brown bears, and you wouldn’t be able to pick this bear out of the crowd at Brooks River today by looking for remnants of the particular injuries in the photo. They would blend with the bear’s many battle scars, if they were visible at all.

Nevertheless, wounds are important identifying characteristics on bears while they last. The wounds on this bear reveal it’s not Chunk but the mighty 747.

brown bear walking through belly deep water. Bear has wounds on forehead and right shoulder.
747 walks through Brooks River on July 6, 2011.

2011, the year of the cover photo, was the first year I remember 747 ballooning into a large bear, but he had not yet achieved the girth of a champion. During 2011, his place in the hierarchy was constantly challenged by two larger bears—856 and 814 Lurch—who frequently displaced 747. Lurch was a bold competitor and even went so far as to steal salmon from 747. 856, meanwhile, would continue to displace 747 from fishing spots and mating opportunities for most of the next ten years. Perhaps 747’s ear position and facial expression in the cover photo is a reaction to the approach of one of his rivals.

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

Several people correctly identified 747 on the audio book cover for my Guess the Cover Bear contest, so I thought it only fair to offer that group a chance to win a copy of the audio book. Congratulations to Megan Meier from Maryland. Megan will receive a free copy of The Bears of Brooks Falls.

Thanks to everyone who participated—and if you won previously and haven’t reached out to claim your prize, please check your email.

2 thoughts on “Oh, That is Bear 747

  1. Hi Mike,
    Your honesty and integrity that I have had the honor of witnessing on the explore cams since 2012 would be a welcomed asset to our Congress. Maybe you should run for office. Our environment and planet could certainly use an advocate like you.

    Like

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