Year First Identified: 2006 as a young adult
Offspring Of: Not known
Genetics Study Samples Obtained: 856 was successfully sampled in 2006 by former wildlife biologist Tamara Olson who obtained a hair sample. Ranger Michael Saxton attempted to dart 856 in 2016, the attempt was unsuccessful. There was no darting attempt in 2017.
2014 Bears of Brooks River book: 856 is a large adult. He has a uniform brown and grizzled coat. His ears are blonde and wide-set. His forehead is wide, furred, and has a noticeable shed pattern in July. His face and front legs may have numerous small scars. Like 747 "Colbert" and 814 Lurch, he is one of the largest bears that regularly uses the Brooks River.
2015 & 2016 Bears of Brooks River book: 856 is another very large bear. He has a uniformly brown and grizzled coat, his ears are blond and wide-set, and his forehead is wide and furred. He also has a noticeable dorsal stripe in July. His face and front legs may have numerous small scars.
Meet Bear 856 video by Mike Fitz, Resident Naturalist with Explore.org.: "Only the biggest and most assertive bears have the opportunity to ascend to the top of the bear hierarchy.
Eight-five-six is a very large adult male with a uniformly brown coat and light-brown ears. In early summer, he has a noticeable stripe of thin fur running from his head to his back and numerous scars and wounds are visible on his head and neck. Behaviorally, he is quite bold and assertive toward other bears."
2014 Bears of Brooks River book: Unlike most bears, 856 is often seen repeatedly licking his lips while he fishes the lip and walks around Brooks Falls.
2015 & 2016 Bears of Brooks River book: Like 814 Lurch, 856 is often seen repeatedly licking his lips while he fishes and walks around Brooks Falls. 856’s behavior and mere presence often has a cascading effects on the behavior of bears at Brooks River. Dominance over other bears confers many advantages. .
856 was initially classified as a young adult in 2006 and assigned his bear monitoring number. Since then, he has been one of the largest, and most dominant bears along the river. Most other bears, including 747 "Colbert" and 814 Lurch, typically yield space to him.
856 and 402 mated in 2010.
2010.07.??: Park visitor, Marcia Bernstein captured this video of 856 eating his fish in July 2010:2010.07.??: 856 can be seen fishing in the jacuzzi in this July 2010 video by taichu99. 194 is the bear on the lip. 634 Popeye and 234 Evander are fishing below the falls (near to far from 856). Mike Fitz provided the identifications of the bears in his January 28, 2020 11:41 comment .: There appears to be 3 blogs by the same park visitor that include photographs from their July 2010 visit to Brooks Camp: Day 1 Blog , Day 2 Blog & Day 3 Blog .
2010.07.??: Phil Schultz shared this July 2010 photo of a bear, possibly 856, on 6/19/2020. (See 2nd photo). Mike Fitz commented on the photo on 6/22/2020. "The bear in the second photo looks like it is probably 856. Not 100% sure on that one though, just 90%."
Please request PhilSchultz's permission prior to using his photographs!
2010.07.08: 856 mated with 402 on the evening of July 8, 2010. 402 also mated with 218 Ugly on the same evening. Brooks Camp's July 9, 2010 tweet .:
856 managed to separate 402 from one of her spring cubs; he later returned and killed it. (The video below does not show 856 killing the cub.)
It is unclear why adult males will sometimes kill cubs as the cub is not always eaten (also see 814 Lurch). In this instance 856 and 402 mated in 2010. Therefore, it is possible 856 killed his own offspring. More information about infanticide is available on page 10 of the 2018 Bears of Brooks River book: Cub Killer? Infanticide in Bears:
856 was included in the 2012 Brown Bears of Brooks Camp iBook :
856 and 402 mated in 2012.
2012.07.06: 856 can be observed courting 744 Dent at 4:20 into this video by endoplasmic1357:
On April 11, 2017, Mike Fitz commented at 08:15 and identified the bears in the above video by endoplasmic1357.
Over the past several years, 856 has not yielded space or resources to any other bear at Brooks Falls. Even other very dominant males, like 747 "Colbert" and 814 Lurch, yield space to him.
856 was observed courting and mating with 450 . Explore.org created this highlight video of the courting and mating couple. On February 21, 2018, Mike Fitz provided cam viewers with the ID of 450 in the Explore highlight video.:
2013.07.27: Park visitor Eiji Takeshima capturd this close up video of 856 eating a fish near the island below the falls and then returning to the jacuzzi to fish some more.:
856 was included in the 2014 Bears of Brooks River book on page 28:
Over the past several years, 856 has mated with several adult females. In Katmai, most male bears do not have the opportunity to mate with females until they are in their early to mid teens—an age when they are large enough to compete other adult males for access to females. However, the hierarchy can change quickly, even within the same season. Therefore most bears, like 856, are adapted to take advantage of their position in the hierarchy.
In early season 2014, 856 was observed appearing to attempt to court 402; but 402 still had a yearling cub in her care.
Tim Auer captured some great photographs and wrote a blog abuot his observations of 856 with 402.
Late June 2014 - Early July 2014:
2014.06.29 - 2014.07.05: 856 was observed courting 708 Amelia the week prior to July 12, 2014.:
An NPS photo by Ranger Michael Fitz appears in the July 15, 2014 Katmai Terrane blog: Being Dominant . Ranger Jeanne commented on July 12, 2014 that 856 was courting 708 Amelia last week (which would have been between June 29, 2014 and July 5, 2014).:
In July 2014, 856 spent considerable time courting females. Consequently, he was noticeably skinnier than 747 "Colbert" or 814 Lurch by the end of that month. 856 continued his soap opera-like relationship with 402. While she was still caring for a yearling cub (now identified as 503 Cubadult ) from her 2013 litter, 402 apparently went into estrus, abandoned the cub, and after an extended courtship period of 11 days she mated with 856.2014.07.?? (2014.07.09 possibly): 856 separates 402 from her yearling (now known as 503 Cubadult) in this video by park visitors laddnshirl. 2014.07.11:
856 is still following 402 and the whereabouts of 402's remaining male yearling (503) is not known. Ranger Mike Fitz comments on 07/11/2014 at 12:28 about what has been observed of 402, her remaining male yearling (503), and 856 from 07/09/2014 - 07/11/2014:Ranger Mike also shared this 07/11/2014 KNP&P blog: Surprises of the Bear World by Ranger Mike Fitz.
2014.07.13: Ranger Jeanne comments that she has no new information on 402's remaining yearling (503), but she has observed 402 twice this morning being pursued by 856. Ranger Jeanne said that 402 is ranging about half mile down river from the falls since she observed 856 pursuing 402 in the oxbow area. When asked if in her experience she would say that 402's remaining yearling was on his own to survivie, Ranger Jeanne replied that she has never seen a sow without one of her cubs for such a long period of time and then experienced them reuniting. Ranger Jeanne said she has also never observed a male bear pursue a female in the way that resembles courting while she still had a dependent cub. She said she observed 402 quite a bit this weekend, but never with her cub. She said it does not necessarily mean that the cub is definitely on its own, but Ranger Jeanne did not personally see them together.:2014.07.14: 856 was observed mating with 708 Amelia. There was a video by Hermosa Paul on youTube, but youTube deleted it beacuse the words bear porn appeared in the title of the video. Mike Fitz did confirm the identification of the two bears in the video prior to it being deleted .
HermosaPaul captured video of 856 posted on 7/15/2014. 856 is seen catching a fish in the jacuzzi and taking it to the island to eat.
2014.07.17 - 2014.07.21: Park visitor, Tim Auer captured some incredible photographs of 856 and 402 during his trip to Brooks Camp. Tim wrote a blog: Katmai After Hours: The Story of 856 and 402 where he also shared some of the images he captured.
2014.07.21: After a courtship that lasted approximately 12 days, 856 mated with 402 near the falls.
856 was included in the 2015 Bears of Brooks River book on page 68:
Juergen and Martina created this video in March of 2015 of 856 (Juergen) singing to 128 Grazer:
Volunteer in Park Anna-Marie AZ captured this video of 856 courting 410. 2015.??.??: Madeleine Rose captured video of 856 at Brooks Falls at multiple points in this 2015 video. 856 can be seen at 0:11, 0:26, 1:06 and 3:25.
June 2015:856 was observed courting 410 Four Ton in June 2015. Explore.org created this highlight video : 2015.06.30: Volunteer In Park Anna-Marie AZ captured these photos (#1 & #2) of 856 courting 410.:
Please request Anna-Marie's permission prior to using her photographs!
July 2015:2015.07.??: Park visitors, Ron & Linda Klein captured this photograph of 856 guarding a napping 410 on the North side of the Brooks River downriver of Brooks Falls (Goof_N posted 2020.01.19 09:35 ).
Please request Ron & Linda Klein's permission prior to using their photographs!
2015.07.??: Volunteer in Park Anna-Marie AZ captured this video of 856 courting 410.
2015.07.01: 856 courting 410 Four-Ton video by Mso Belle
2015.07.02: 856 courting 410 near lower river gif by IslandDunesGal .2015.07.04: Volunteer In Park Anna-Marie AZ captured this photo of 856 courting 410.: Please request Anna-Marie's permission prior to using her photographs!
2015.07.12: 856 and who(? 289 maybe) mating video by MsDebbiB:Later the same day, Martina captured this video of 856 still courting the same female (? 289 maybe):
2015.07.24: 856 and 435 Holly interaction photographs by Mike Fitz posted February 10, 2017::
Please request Mike Fitz' permission prior to using his photographs!
435 Holly going after 856. Holly's nearby cubs are 503 (darker coat, adopted) and 719 (lighter coat, biological). 7/24/15 video by markindify (aka Martina).
856 was included in the 2016 Bears of Brooks River book on page 79:
2016.06.14: 856 NPS photograph by Ranger Daniel Lombardi.:
AFTER 2016.06.23 (prior to the end of June 2016):
856 was grazered by 128 Grazer during the 2016 season. Park visitor Kevin Lee captured this video during his 2016 trip to Brooks Camp. 856 being grazered by 128 Grazer can be seen from 10:28 - 11:18 into Kevin Lee's video:
Carol Gray Photography was there at the same time and captured multiple photos. First photo is 128 and cub . Click the >to see the sequence of 11 photos. 856 looks at least twice as big as 128.
856 and 814 Lurch video by Ratna:
14:5x: 856 displaces 814 Lurch video by Mickey Williams:
2016.06.29: 856 and 435 Holly splash and dash down the riffles video by Arlene Beech:
2016.07.01: Brenda D captured video of 856 and 480 having a disagreement, 7/1/2016.
2016.07.06: "Everyone moves for 856", 7/6/2016 video by Brenda D. 480 Otis and possibly 700 Marge move as soon as 856 heads their way.
2016.07.08: 89 Backpack is following 289 when 856 arrives and 89 runs off, video by Brenda D, 7/8/2016.
2016.07.12: Brenda D captured 7/12/2016 video of 856 scaring 410 and then 747 running her off.
2016.07.13: 480 Otis is in the jacuzzi and distracted by 747 and a female disagreeing in the far pool. 856 carefully sneaks up behind 480 Otis and scares him, 7/13/2016 video by Brenda D.
2016.07.15: 856 waits on the bank to court 289 who is more interested in fishing, 7/15/2016 video by Brenda D.
"I was bored this afternoon, so I made this quick little ditty, “ Suspense at Brooks Falls 2016”. I started watching the bear cams three years ago in 2016 so this will be my fourth season. This is one of the most memorable times from that first season. When 856 started after 402 and cubs and was sniffing them out by the observation deck at the falls, I was terrified, especially when he came right up to stare into the camera! I screamed and jumped a mile. The Camop said she did too. Can’t help but wonder about the people who were there that day. Yikes! 402 and the cubs went one way and 719 went the other. I never noticed it at the time but 812 seemed to know something was going on in the woods across the river because he was looking in that direction and he was right! I can’t wait to see what memorable times we will have this season. Nothing bad I hope."
This video by angerboda captures the July 22, 2016 close-up footage of 856 after 402 with her two yearlings (811 & 812) and 719 had departed the area as 856 approached.:
2016.07.14: Erie's video of 856 having a stroll on the Spit Road .....he was in a "smelling the flowers" mood, thank goodness. At the 1:50 mark a park visitor has no idea just how close he came to the areas most dominant boar. At 3:00 we see 719 and 503 together shortly after emancipation.:
2016.07.26: 856 needs a Snickers. 856 and 775 Lefty have words. Brenda D commented that "856 has been aggressive all night" in this 7/26/2016 video.
2016.09.07: In Brenda D's 9/7/2016 video, 747 is back left, 480 Otis is back right and 856 is by the fallen log (the hole).
2016.09.14: 856 and 747 disagree, 480 Otis plays it cool video by Lyn Gulbransen.:
2016.09.15: 856 video by Ratna:747 and 856 have words in the jacuzzi video by Brenda D: (turn on your sound for this one)
2016.09.17: 856 charges a bear up the hill, 9/17/2016 video by Brenda D.
2016.09.18: 856 video by Ratna:
2016.09.19: 856 in the jacuzzi, 9/19/2016 video by Brenda D.
2016.10.02: 856 Late Night at the Falls, Late Night at the Falls video by Brenda D 10/2/2016.
856 was included in the 2017 Bears of Brooks River book on page 81:
"856, Brown Bear of Katmai National Park, Alaska. A powerful bear. The reigning dominant bear for quite a few years. One of the scariest bears on the river, if not THE scariest, in my opinion.
In 2017, the ordered world of Brooks River’s “bear town” was turned upside down when he showed up on camera at Brooks Falls, injured and limping. He could no longer hold his top position in the bear hierarchy. Until 747, second in the hierarchy, showed up extremely late and asserted his position as “king”, a bit of chaos ensued. 32 Chunk took over as the dominant bear but was, in my opinion, too “nice” to hold it. Popeye, also wounded and limping, was unable to establish dominance. On a number of days, the sows took over the falls, and it was overrun by cubs and subadults.
In the spring of 2018, bear cam watchers held their breath as they waited to see what would happen that season. The Katmai rangers indicated that, once having fallen from the top, it was very unlikely a bear would ever be able to regain his position as the dominant bear.
But, once again, our Brooks River bears broke the “rules”. 856 came back with a vengeance. He physically challenged the huge 747 and won, thus reestablishing his dominant position. Throughout the 2018 season he continually proved his top place in the bear hierarchy, even once to an unfortunate extreme.
856 was again the reigning dominant bear. Will he hold onto that position in 2019? The brown bear cams will tell the tale.
Here is a slide show video I made in 2017 when he fell from the top.
Music "Nexus Code" by Steve Everitt (Magisto license)."
2017.07.04: 856 video by babsgrabs that shows 856's limp.:2017.07.05: Harry Purcell captured this photograph of 856 (right) with 32 Chunk (left).
2017.07.08: 856 in early 2017 when he appeared to be somewhat disabled: This is a long video, but you can click on a few spots on the timeline to get an idea of how 856 was moving. At 24:30, 856 is near the island and then goes upstream to a spot below the far pool/fallen tree. He eventually goes to the far pool and office area, and then downstream before exiting up the far bank. Most of the footage from near 18:40 and later is of 856. 7/8/2017 (Explore Recorder video ) (24:30 start)
2017.07.13: 32 Chunk intimidates 68 (not 856) video by Melissa Freels: Note: 68 was mis-identifed as 856 early in the 2017 season. Correction by Mazey, 2/12/2020.
32 Chunk displaces 68 (not 856) from the office video by Brenda D.: Note: 68 was mis-identified as 856 early in the 2017 season. Correction by Mazey, 2/12/2010.
2017.07.17: 856 displaces 480 Otis video by Brenda D:
32 greets 402 and 856 video by Flyer 7474 (aka SteveCA):
2017.07.19: 856 is submissive as 32 Chunk approaches him on 7/19/2017. Note: 856 was speculated to be injured or ill in 2017 as he was not his dominant self as the #1 boar. As 856 backs away he is bluff charged at 00:33 by an unknown sow and her 3 yearlings (now known to be female #39), video by st mango.
Please request ElaineDE's permission prior to using her photographs!
Phillydude's description of a 7/20/2017 Brenda D video: "an injured looking 856 gingerly makes his way across the top of the Falls and joins Lefty on the Lip, 856 was obviously not in any shape to get into a confrontation, but showed how much respect he has as a dominant Boar as Lefty felt awkward about the situation and walked off anyway."
2017.07.21: 32 Chunk pushes 856 around, 402 looks on video by angerboda.:
775 Lefty is on the lip and 856 is in the jacuzzi when 32 Chunk arrives at 1:27 and they both yield their fishing spots to him, 7/21/2017 video by Brenda D.
Please request ElaineDE's permission prior to using her photos!
2017.07.23: Park visitor and cam viewer, JstDucky, captured photo #1 of 856 during her trip to Brooks Camp. Scammin (JstDucky's husband) captured additional photos of 856 from 7/23/2017 and posted them in chat on 3/8/2020, photos #2 and #3.
2017.09.13: 32 Chunk, 480 Otis, and 856 video by Ratna:
2017.09.23: 856 video by Ratna:
2017.09.28: Goldilocks captured these snapshots of 856 in a place that we never see him. Below the island, eating other's scraps.....building his strength and resolve for his triumphant return to the top in 2018. (Snapshot #1 , #2 , #3 , #4 , #5 & #6 ):
October 2017:video (32:25-44:14) of 856 in chat on 3/8/2020. Photos #1, #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6. Shel: "When 856 was first seen on cam in 2017, he was fairly thin, seemed somewhat disabled, and acted subordinate to many bears he had appeared to dominate in previous years. Later in the season, he had gained a lot of weight and looked and acted much more fit."
2017.10.24: 856 arrives and frightens 708 Amelia video by Melissa Freels.:2017.10.27:
856 in the office video by Brenda D:
856 wanders the falls video by Brenda D:
856 was included in the Adult Males section of the 2018 Bears of Brooks River book on page 84. NPS photos of 856 (year taken unknown) also appear on page 21, Bear Monitoring At Brooks River, and page 64, Chapter 6: Adult Males. 856 is mentioned 33 times in the 2018 edition of the Bears of Brooks River book.:
Deanna Dittloff (aka deelynnd) created this video of snapshots of 856 captured during the 2018 season:
2018.06.06 & FEW DAYS PRIOR:
"Over the past few days at Brooks River, one of the area’s most dominant bears, 856, has been incessantly following the adult female 409 Beadnose. 409, many bearcam viewers may remember, raised two yearling cubs last summer, and she was seen with them earlier this spring. Now however, we know she has emancipated her cubs and is once again single. 856, perhaps more than anyone, knows this as well, and his proximity to Beadnose reveals his amorous intentions."
2018.06.16 Morning: 856 was observed courting 409 Beadnose on the morning of June 16, 2018 per Ranger Russ' June 16, 2018 10:35 comment : "Good morning from Alaska. I'll be here the next half hour should you have any questions. Yes, we do expect to have the bearcams to be running and the Bear Book out by next week.
There were no bear sightings yesterday. This morning 856 was seen pursuing 409. I was not able to make a photograph, but it was confirmed by several people that they were the bears seen."
2018.06.21: 856 was observed on the Explore Falls Low View bearcam:
Flyer 7474 (aka SteveCA) captured this video :
Casper Trout captured this video :
Cruiser captured this video :
Cruiser captured this GIF.
Ratna captured this video :
2018.06.26: Martina captured these snapshots of 856:
Flyer 7474 (aka SteveCA) captured this video of 856 and 747's confrontation:
2018.06.27: Brooks Camp visitor Rockatte was at Brooks Falls on 6/27/2018 and filmed a number of interactions between the most dominant boar 856 and 747 who at the time was considered the 2nd most dominant.
Video #1: 856 spots 747 at the falls. He shows his dominance over 747 by cowboy walking on the island and marking a tree. 747 sits and watches, video by Rockatte.Video #2: 747 leaves and heads up behind the falls platform, 856 quickly follows, video by Rockatte. Video #3: 856 and 747 have a standoff by the falls platform exit gate. 747 is very submissive, sitting and watching 856's actions. Eventually 856 marks a tree and returns to the falls, video by Rockatte.
2018.06.28: 856 vs 755 Scare D Bear slow motion video by Ratna:
Arlene Beech (aka Homebird) captured this video of the interaction between 755 Scare D. Bear and 856.:
Xander-Sage created this gif of the interaction between 856 and 747.:
Brenda D captured this video of the interaction between 856 and 747.:
The second interaction between 747 and 856 on June 28, 2018 is captured in this video by Brenda D.:
2018.06.29: 856 NPS photo from KNP&P's October 6, 2018 06:00 Facebook post for the 2018 Fat Bear Week Contest:
856 on June 29, 2018, NPS photo by A Garduno:
2018.06.30: Bear 856: On Top Again blog by Mike FItz , Explore.org.:
This past week, one bear appeared determined to regain his rank at the top of Brooks River’s bear hierarchy. 856 appears to be big enough and healthy enough to show the river’s other adult male bears he’s ready to compete.
Bear 856 is one of Brooks River’s largest bears, and from 2011–2016 he was its most dominant. Last summer, however, he was unable to maintain that position, possibly due to a leg injury. As I wrote previously, the hierarchy at Brooks Falls was fated to shuffle. Each interaction between bears can help us understand the organization of the hierarchy a little further. Several interactions between 856 and other bears provide evidence that he may be, once again, subordinate to no other bear.
In the video above, bear 747 sits in the plunge pool below Brooks Falls, a spot nicknamed the jacuzzi. You can see him turn and begin to move out of the jacuzzi as another bear approaches. The other bear is 856. 747 is very large, perhaps larger than 856, but although size does matter in the bear world, disposition also plays a big role. 856 is consistently more assertive than 747. 856’s directed approach toward him is an obvious challenge: get out of my way or else!
747 doesn’t seem willing to challenge 856 in a physical fight. Under these circumstances, if 747 turned away then he would expose rear flank to attack. Possibly for this reason he stands his ground and only begins to leave after 856 appears to be preoccupied with a salmon.
856, in his hyper-dominant way, doesn’t let 747 leave without more conflict. Just before the clip ends, 856 chases 747 into the vegetation behind the wildlife-viewing platform at the falls. Several people on the platform witnessed the rest of the confrontation. They reported that 856 and 747 continued to posture silently, and 747 continued to remain submissive to 856.
856 has also confronted and challenged other large males, like 755.
Dominant bears have many suvival advantages over subordinate bears. Dominance may not provide access to more fish when salmon are extremely abundant, but dominance and a high rank would certainly provide access to the most productive fishing spots when salmon aren’t as plentiful. When salmon are migrating at Brooks Falls, for example, some fish are almost always found in the jacuzzi, 856’s most preferred fishing spot. Salmon aren’t as consistently accessible in other locations like the lip or the far pool. At least one study, however, has found dominant bears don't necessarily catch more fish than bears lower in the hierarchy. This indicates that bears utilize a variety of strategies to survive.
Dominance is just one route to success. Bears like 856 take advantage of their size and strength to make their living, displacing other bears from productive fishing areas and potential mates. As 856 continues to challenge other bears over the next few weeks, more bears will take the hint and leave him alone or simply avoid him altogether.
Soon, we may be watching the bearcam when the bears at the falls quit what they’re doing. We might see them stand and begin to move away from their favorite fishing spot. Then we might observe 856 waltz toward Brooks Falls. By avoiding his approach, the other bears demonstrate a level of respect for an assertive survivalist, one uses size and aggression to get him what he wants."
Park visitor, Mike Weagley, captured this July 2018 video of 603. 128 Grazer, 409 Beadnose (with fish), and 775 Lefty on the lip near to far at the beginning of this video. 409 takes her fish closer to the fish ladder to consume her fish. The video then switches to 603 (believed by some to possibly be 68 in the early season) and 856 (left to right) at the 0:36 mark The video then goes back to the bears on the lip and then back again to 603 and 856. The sweeping briefly to 755 Scare D Bear on the North side of the river.:
Mike Weagley also captured this July 2018 video of 603 (believed by some to possibly be early season 68) seen begging from 409 Beadnose while 128 Grazer and 775 Lefty fish the lip. When 603 turns away 856 is seen to the right.:2018.07.01:
Approximately 12:11: 856 vs 747 Altercation:
The Explore Recorder video that captures the altercation between 856 and 747. When the altercation begins, 856 is the bear on the left at 39:50 into this video :.The interaction between 856 and 747 starts prior to that.
856 attacks 747 slow motion video by tsaneda (aka Shovelbum81). "After a fair amount of time cowboy walking and other dominance displays, 856 attacks 747 at Brooks Falls at approximately noon AKDT":
Martina captured this real-time video:
Wacker42 captured this video :
Truman Everts captured this photo of the 7/1/2018 fight between 856 and 747. It is truly a piece of art!
Please request Truman Evert's permission prior to using his photographs!
On July 3, 2018 Mike Fitz, Explore.org's Bearcam Fellow, and Ranger Andrew LaValle were doing a play-by-play from the Brooks Falls wildlife viewing platform. At the 36:09 mark into the play-by-play 856 can be seen giving chase to 634 Popeye from the river below the falls, onto the bank in front of the viewing platform and then down towards the riffles.That chase took 856 and 634 Popeye down near the Riffles wildlife viewing platform where they encountered 132 and her two spring cubs.
(Note: 856 is seen returning up river closer to the falls at the 58:59 mark into the above play-by-play, 634 Popeye had returned earlier.)
We later learned that 856 killed one of 132's spring cubs near the Riffles wildlife viewing platform.
"Hi everyone, last night near the Riffles we had a dramatic reminder that life as a bear can be difficult, dangerous, and short.
Bear 856 came upon what is thought to be bear 132 and her two spring cubs. Bear 856 attacked and killed one of the cubs. After an altercation with 856, bear 132 then left the scene wounded. Her remaining cub was abandoned in a tree above the carcass of its deceased sibling . It could be heard vocalizing and crying out to its separated mother.
The abandoned cub was later seen coming down from the tree, still vocalizing, and wandering around by itself. The whereabouts of both it and its mother are not known at this time.
Though it can be tough to witness, infanticide is a natural part of the bear world. Both genders may kill cubs, it is most often committed by male bears.
Mike Fitz and I will be doing a live chat later today on this topic at 9am Alaska time, 10am pacific. -Ranger Andrew"
2018.07.05: NWBearLove92 shared this 7/5/2018 photo of 856 on 5/28/2020. "856 at the falls. I was trying not to make eye contact and hoping that he was looking at someone else on the platform. He looked very intimidating. 7/5/18."
2018.07.06: Death of Bear Cub at Brooks Falls , Explore blog by Mike FItz:
"As the smallest and most vulnerable of all bears, first year cubs (also called spring cubs or cubs-of-the-year) face significant risks and challenges, not the least of which are larger bears. On July 3, Katmai National Park ranger Andrew LaValle and I were hosting a live broadcast from Brooks Falls . About 40 minutes into the broadcast, we watched Brooks River’s most dominant bear, 856, chase another large male bear, 634 Popeye, downstream and out of our line of sight. Just a few minutes later and off camera, 856 encountered a mother bear and two spring cubs. He then attacked one of the cubs and killed it. The death is a powerful illustration of risk and danger in the bears’ world.
So focused on the waterfall in front of us, neither Andrew nor I saw or heard anything that even hinted at the event unfolding less than a hundred yards away, but a group of park visitors and employees witnessed the attack at the riffles platform, an elevated wildlife-viewing platform downstream of the falls. They saw 856 encounter 132 after he broke off his chase with 634 Popeye. 856 then saw the cub and attacked. 132 tried to defend her cubs but was overpowered by the much larger 856, who quickly returned to the injured cub and killed it. 132’s other cub escaped up a spruce tree, where it remained for about two hours .
856’s motivation in this instance isn’t entirely clear. He didn’t eat it, so hunger might not have played a strong role. Some biologists hypothesize that mate recognition influences the frequency of infanticide in certain species. Male bears may recognize former mates and kill cubs from unfamiliar females to reduce future competition for themselves and their kin. They may also be motivated to sire more offspring. Killing all cubs from a litter can cause a female bear to enter estrus and potentially be available to mate again. Importantly, the instinct to attack vulnerable animals, even if it leads to infanticide, might simply be a trait of many bears. In 2013, the bearcams captured footage of 402 defending her cubs from 813, an adult female, after 813 began to pursue one of 402’s cubs as it fell over Brooks Falls.
For the mother, the cub’s death represents a significant loss. She’s devoted considerable time and energy into caring for it, and 132 risked severe injury, even death, when she tried to defend her cub from 856. Mother bears seem to recognize the risk posed by other bears, which could be the main reason why many females avoid bringing their spring cubs near the falls. However, the possible reward of abundant salmon can be a powerful motivator for a mother who’s trying to meet the nutritional demands of her cubs and satisfy her own insatiable hunger.
Under the circumstances, the infanticide seemed to be a product of chance. Bears appear conditioned to attack vulnerable prey, even if it doesn’t necessarily lead to a meal. 856, perhaps perceiving the cub’s vulnerability, took advantage of a situation where the cub couldn’t defend itself or flee. Bears also show no empathy for their prey. It’s easy to see salmon suffering under the claws and teeth of hungry bears, such as when bears tear the skin off of living salmon. These events certainly aren’t committed under malice or cruelty, as bears live outside our morals, ethics, and the other values that help define our sense of right and wrong.
When I left Brooks Falls at 10 p.m. on July 3, 132’s remaining spring cub had just climbed out of its sanctuary in the spruce tree. It continued to bawl as it walked farther into the forest. As I departed, I caught a glimpse of 132 sniffing at the same tree where the cub found temporary safety. She then walked in the direction the cub had taken shortly before. Now, we know that 132 was reunited with her remaining cub .
Brown bears live in a fierce and competitive world, and spring cubs are the most vulnerable of all bears. Through luck, skill, and the guidance of their mothers, cubs can grow into healthy independent bears. It’s a risky and challenging world though, one in which cubs, their mothers, and the river’s most dominant bears all compete to survive within.
Please request NWBearLove92's permission prior to using any of their photographs!
2018.07.10: 856 fishing the lip of Brooks Falls video by Ratna:
2018.07.11 19:45: 856 and 32 Chunk displaying dominance while Ranger Andrew and Ranger Mike were doing a play-by-play video by Lani:
During a 7/11/2018 Play by Play with Mike Fitz and Ranger Andrew LaValle, 900 is seen entering the top of the falls from the far side at 8:23. 856 is in the far pool below. At 8:48, 856 goes after 900 for no reason. 900 was unidentified at the time, video by Brenda D.
2018.07.19: 856 boots 32 Chunk from the falls video by mckate.:
2018.07.22: Video by Lani H of 856 being displaced from the jacuzzi by an unidentified boar (68 maybe?):
Explore recorder video At 18:30 -- 856 is in the J, 68 is eating a fish near the island, and 747 is downstream from the rock near the office. 68 displaces 856 from the J.:
"Not often seen in 2018 -- 856 being displaced from the J: At 18:30 -- 856 is in the J, 68* is eating a fish near the island, and 747 is downstream from the rock near the office. 68* subsequently displaces 856 from the J. (7/23/18)
Note: March 3, 2019 comment by Shel : re: possibly 68* in this video with 856 and 747 "Some of us think the bear initially by the island in this video is 68. I suspect this bear was ID'ed by the bear monitor as 603 during the July monitoring session. 68 was not officially ID'ed by the bear monitor in July 2018 (but 603 was). 68 was officially ID'ed by the bear monitor in the 2018 fall session (but 603 wasn't).
Bears officially ID'ed by the bear monitor in 2018 from Katmai Ranger's comment link "
2018.07.26: Flyer 7474 captured video of a confrontation between 856 and 747 on 7/26/2018. 856 moves 747 out of the jacuzzi (watch 856 jaw popping). Not content to fish the jacuzzi and eat his fish, 856 chases 747 when he tries to leave.
Cruiser captured a photo and added special effects from the same incident.
Ability is what you're capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it."
747 (largest bear sitting in the far pool), 480 Otis (licking the rock in the far pool), 856 (is the bear that catches the fish), and 634 Popeye (in the office) video by Birgitt:503 Cubadult and 812 smelling 856? video by mckate.:
2018.09.12: 856's approach displaces 480 Otis and another bear in this video by mckate.:2018.09.13: 480 Otis, 151 Walker, 32 Chunk and 856 exchange video by mckate. 151 Walker begs from 480 Otis and gets jumped. 32 Chunk intervenes (and checks for leftovers) and 856 chases Chunk because only the top bear intervenes. :
2018.09.14: 856 and 503 Cubadult video by Martina:
2018.09.14 - 2018.09.17: Park visitor and cam viewer, Ratna Narayan captured this photograph of 856 during her trip to Brooks Camp. Ratna also captured this photograph of 747 (above the falls, left) with 856 (below the falls, right).: Ratna also captured these photographs (#1 , #2 & #3) of 747 (above the falls, left) with 856 (below the falls, right). Ratna shared this photo of 856. Ratna shared this photograph of 856 (p 02/29/2020 18:08 ). Ratna also shared these photographs (#1 , #2 & #3 ) of 856 (p 03/01/2020 16:04 ).:
Please request Ratna Narayan's permission prior to using her photographs!
Ratna also captured this photograph of 856 during her trip to Brooks Camp. Scooch composed this to go along with Ratna's photo on 856 day held March 3, 2019.: Please request Ratna Narayan's permission prior to using her photographs!
"Today we celebrate 856 ~
You better stay away from him
He'll rip your lungs out, Jim!
"I never give up.
I never give down.
I don't give side to side,
And I won't give around.
I never give up.
I never relent.
There's only one thing I give,
And that is 100 percent."
2018.09.15: Ratna Narayan captured these photographs (#1 & #2 ) of 856 (far) with 747 (near) on September 15, 2018 (p 01/22/2020 08:28 ). Ratna also captured these photographs (#1 , #2 & #3 ) of 856 (right) with 747 (left) (p 01/22/2020 08:27 ).:
Please request Ratna Narayan's permission prior to using her photographs!
2018.09.18: Anna-Marie created this video of 856's interaction with 32 Chunk:
2018.09.21: 747, 856 and 480 Otis have words in the far pool video by Birgitt:
856 harasses 747 for good measure video by mckate.:
2018.09.24: 856 video by mckate:
2018.09.25: Alaska's badass bears: A battle to reclaim the river's throne by Mark Kaufman , Mashable.
2018.09.27: 32 Chunk finds himself between 856 and 747 video by Lani H.:
747 negotiates log and 856 video by mckate.;
2018.09.28: 856 NPS photo by Ranger Russ Taylor.:
Birgitt captured these snapshots (#1 & #2 ) of 856. Mike Fitz and Birgitt discussed 856 on Fat Tuesday, March 5, 2019 (snips of comments below).:
Mike Fitz : "856 goes to show that you don't have to spend all your time eating to get fat. At the falls at least, he spends considerable more time displacing other bears and competing for access to females than most other males. Yet, he still gets very fat. Of course, you can't get that big without being good at fishing."
Birgitt: "He was taking a break to chase 83 there. Do you have any sense of why he moved out of the J and to the far pool last year?"
Mike Fitz : "I don't know. He may have had a good reason, but I also suspect bears do things sometimes just because they want to, not because it gives them any sort of selective advantage. With that being said, fish may have been so plentiful last year that he didn't need as much access to the jacuzzi compared to other years. When there are fewer fish available, the j is one of the most consistently good fishing spots at the falls. When fish are super abundant though, it's not necessarily any more productive than several other places, including the far pool."
Birgitt: "I was thinking something similar about the abundance of salmon, because neither 856 nor 747 spent much time in the J last summer. In fact, most of the big boars lined themselves up on the far side of the river. I started thinking of it as Boar Alley back there. Which, of course, gave 503 a lot of time in the J and gave the youngsters 812, 903 and 719 a chance to explore fishing in the J.
But you're right. We should start thinking in terms of them doing things because they want to."
2019: Adult Male
GreenRiver created this 2016-2019 video of 856 from snapshots taken on the bear cams and shared it on 5/25/2020. "856. The number of a bear who has over the last five years earned my respect. He may not be one of my favorite bears, but his place at the top of the Brooks River Brown bear hierarchy has been well earned. So here is my new slideshow video with pics from the Explore.Org Brown Bear Cams over those years. He may well be the father and or grandfather of many of our Brooks River Bears, including our well beloved 503."
Please request Kam's permission prior to using their photographs!
Phillydude shared favorite 2019 season photos of 856 in chat on 3/8/2020, #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8 and #9. "Happy 856 Day! - he had a busy Summer last year in between fending off 68's hierarchy challenge and remodeling Otis' office into his own private dinning room, but through it all 856 remained top Bear and reminded all the other Bears of that at every opportunity - 856 is an amazing and at times breathtaking Bear to watch, these are some of my favorite snaps of him from last season."
Birgitt captured the "Parting of the Boars", as seen in photo #5, in this 8/4/2019 video.
Xander-Sage-2 shared snapshots and a snapshot collage of 856 on 3/9/2020. Snapshots #1 and #2. Snapshot collage #3. Note: In photo #1, 856 has his back to the camera. His shed pattern makes him look bare from the waist down.
2019.??.??: 775 Lefty is the star of this video 2019 Alaska Nice Bears by Yair Leopold. 775 Lefty on the lip with 856 in the far pool and possibly 68 between the jacuzzi and the island.:
2019.??.??: 856 during the 2019 Season video by Deanna Dittloff (aka deelynnd).:
2019.06.??: 854 can be observed courting 854 Divot at various points in this video by Marvin Neitzert.:
2019.06.19: On June 20, 2019 at 08:55 AKDT, Katmai Conservancy Ranger Naomi commented and shared photos (#1 634 Popeye , #2 128 Grazer , #3 128 Grazer on the lip , #4 856 ) of the bears observed at Brooks Falls on the evening of June 19, 2019.:
"The salmon have arrived and the bears have followed. Last night Mike Fitz, John Koster and I were at The Falls. Here are pictures of 634 Popeye, Grazer (sorry, no cubs), a sub and 856. When 856 strutted in, Grazer had already left having eaten 7 salmon. But Popeye took one look at 856 and ran up the far bank. 856 not satisfied with that, followed him up the bank. Dominance seems to be his priority. Once satisfied that Popeye was really gone, he returned to take his place in the jacuzzi. The season has begun. "
2019.06.24: 856 jumps unknown boar video by mckate. 856 had been chasing 634 Popeye up above the falls just about 20 minutes earlier, so that may explain why he seemed winded.:
2019.06.28: 856 loses 854 Divot and trashes 480 Otis' office video by mckate. Mckate shared these thoughts in the description of the video.: "
856 and 854 Divot are courting. Divot must have needed a break, so slipped into the bushes above Otis's office. I have to wonder about 856's eyesight. He didn't see her walk right into that area and, when he finally tracked her scent, she was sitting right there and he didn't see her until she took off again. 480 Otis will not be pleased to see that they redecorated without his permission."
856 above the office video by Birgitt.:
856 appears to possibly be courting 128 Grazer and possibly be protecting his courting rights from another unidentified adult male in this June 27, 2019 video by Erum Chad.:
856 courting 128 Grazer above the falls video by Birgitt.:
2019.06.29: 856 goes courting 854 Divot video by Brenda D.:
856 courting 854 Divot as 854 takes her fish to go; video by Birgitt.:
2019.06.30: 402 gives lip fishing lessons above 856 video by mckate.:
2019.07.??: 856 in July 2019. Explore photograph via Mike Fitz.:
2019.07.01: Truman Everts shared this 7/1/2019 photo of 856 in chat.
Please request Truman Evert's permission prior to using his photographs!
Tzusrule shared these snapshot collages (#1 & #2 ):
2019.07.02: 856 challenges 68(?) video by Birgitt:
2019.07.02: Truman Everts shared this 7/2/2019 photo of 856 in chat.
Please request Truman Evert's permission prior to usinh his photographs!
2019.07.03: The Bears of Brooks Falls series by Mike Fitz, Resident Naturalist with Explore.org ~ Meet Bear 856 video
Only the biggest and most assertive bears have the opportunity to ascend to the top of the bear hierarchy.
Eight-five-six is a very large adult male with a uniformly brown coat and light-brown ears. In early summer, he has a noticeable stripe of thin fur running from his head to his back and numerous scars and wounds are visible on his head and neck. Behaviorally, he is quite bold and assertive toward other bears.
2019.07.04: 856 chases 747 up the hill on the North side of the river video by Ratna Narayan.:Mike Fitz shared this 7/4/2019 photo of 856 (right) and 603/68 on 6/9/2020. "856 (right) challenges 603/68 upstream of Brooks Falls on July 4, 2019."
Please request NWBearLove92's permission prior to using any of their photographs!
Please request Lori's (aka Lovethebears) permission prior to using her photographs!
2019.07.09: 856 chases 854 Divot video by mckate.:
2019.07.14: 856 Scares Shaggy video by mckate. Mckate also shared this information about the her video: "856 caught Shaggy aka Mane Bear in the office and pushed him downstream. I would imagine that these two represent the top and the very bottom of the boar hierarchy.":
68 blocks 856 video by mckate.:
856 wins standoff with 68 video by mckate.:
2019.07.17: 503 Cubadult sneaks past 856 video by mckate.:
2019.07.22: 856 NPS photo by 2019 Katmai Conservancy Ranger Naomi Boak from the KNP&P flickr .:
2019.07.26: The baddest, most dominant bear cam bear has emerged by Mark Kaufman , Mashable.
2019.07.30: 856 reminds 68 who's boss video by mckate.:
2019.07.31: 755 Scare D Bear catches a fish on the lip while 856 has words with 503 Cubadult or 812 video by mckate.:
2019.08.03: 856 slips into the river behind 812 and 806 as they chow down video by mckate.:2019.08.05: 68 displaces 856 from the jacuzzi video by mckate.:
2019.08.06: 856 denies 68 the jacuzzi video by mckate.:
Please request Kam's permission prior to using their photographs!
2019.08.25: The Party's Over, 856 returns video by mckate.:2019.08.26: 747 subtly signals his desire for the jacuzzi where 856 is fishing video by mckate.: 2019.08.27: 909 keeps and eye on 856 video by mckate.:
2019.08.28: 856 eats at his "desk" video by mckate.:
2019.08.29: 856 moves for 854 Divot video by mckate.:
856 takes a break video by mckate.:
2019.08.31: 856 laying down video by Lani H.:
2019.09.01: 856 and 747 have words video by Lani H.:856 catches 747 leaving work early video by mckate.:
2019.09.02: 856 acknowledges 68's return to the falls video by mckate.:
2019.09.03: 856 dines on the bank below the Falls platform video by Birgitt.:
747 bites 755 Scare D Bear, 856 does not get involved video by mckate.:
856 marks the island for the benefit of 747 video by Felicia. The video description includes this additional information: 856 "did this as a follow-up to 747 marking the island".:
2019.09.05: 856 disrupts 747's nap video by mckate.: