Fat Bear Week winner announced in Alaska after voting scandal during semi-final

Bear 747 was announced as the winner of the 2022 Fat Bear Week competition. Credit: @KatmaiNPS/Twitter

An annual US bear competition has announced its winner for 2022 after a semi-final cheating scandal threatened to skew the end results.

On Wednesday, Bear 747 was revealed as the winner of Alaska's Katmai National Park and Preserve Fat Bear Week contest.

Bear 747 triumphed over his final opponent, 901, by collecting more votes in the online poll.

The result was announced on Twitter by Explore.org which said: "THIS 747 IS CLEARED FOR LANDING. Introducing your 2022 Fat Bear Week champion. Bear Force One!!!!!"

However, Bear 747 may not have been declared as this year's winner had officials failed to detect foul play in the semi-final voting, which took place on Sunday.

Organisers became suspicious when Bear 747's semi-final opponent, 435 Holly, overcame a shortfall of some 6,000 votes to lead, according to CNN.

The ballot box was found to be "stuffed" with fake votes, which were subsequently discarded. A recount placed Bear 747 into the final.

The win for Bear 747 this year was his second after he won the most votes in 2020's final.

In the late summer and fall he is described as being "typically very fat with a low-hanging belly and uniformly dark brown fur", according to his online profile.

"Few brown bears ever grow as large as the bear who shares an identification number with a jet airplane," it added.

"When 747 was first identified in 2004, he was a relatively young bear, only a few years old and unable to compete with larger bears for the most preferred fishing locations.

"Since then, he has become one of the largest brown bears on Earth, perhaps weighing as much as 1,400 pounds (636kg)."

The Fat Bear Week competition coincides with the period of the year when Katmai’s brown bears are at their fattest, as they prepare for winter hibernation.

"Fat bears exemplify the richness of Katmai National Park and Bristol Bay, Alaska, a wild region that is home to more brown bears than people and the largest, healthiest runs of sockeye salmon left on the planet," the official competition website states.

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