Time to weigh in: It’s Fat Bear Week in Alaska

This is much heavier than March Madness.

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Every fall, some of the largest brown bears in Alaska feast on sockeye salmon at Brooks River in Katmai National Park, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Proving that any event can be handicapped like a sporting event, a single-elimination tournament began Wednesday and will continue through Tuesday -- Fat Bear Tuesday, according to the Fat Bear Week website.

People can download a bracket and pick winners, just like the NCAA basketball tournament.

“Fat Bear Week is really a celebration of success and survival,” Lian Law, a visual information specialist at Katmai, told the Post. “We really highlight the resilience and adaptability of bears here.”

Katmai National Park and Preserve, located in southwest Alaska, is home to an estimated 2,200 brown bears, according to the National Park Service. Fat Bear Week started off as a one-day affair, and like the bears’ weight, ballooned into a weeklong event, USA Today reported.

“Everyone was just amazed by it,” Sara Wolman, project and media manager for Katmai Conservancy, told the newspaper. “In a world where we’re constantly experiencing things like climate change, that really hit a note with people.”

Each day of Fat Bear Week, the public is asked to choose between the “fattest of the fat” in online contests. Fans can watch the bears gorge on salmon via a live river cam. The bear with the most votes in each bracket advance until the final two vie for the title.

This year, contenders include a male named Chunk, and Holly, a medium-large adult female who won the competition in 2019, according to CNN.

In 2019, more than 200,000 votes were cast in the competition. Last year, that number topped 600,000, the Post reported.

“It really does raise awareness about their ecosystem,” Law told the newspaper. “We are holding these Brooks bears and the Brooks area as an exemplary illustration of a healthy ecosystem.

“So, yes, we are celebrating the success of these bears, but it’s important also not to forget that not all the bears and all of those places are so fortunate.”

Park officials are expecting a lot more ballots cast this year, USA Today reported.

A dominant adult male might catch and eat more than 30 fish a day, according to CNN.