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SYFY WIRE Cocaine Bear

Distressed Hiker Saved Thanks to “Fat” Bear Webcam

He was decidedly NOT a fat bear.

By Cassidy Ward

Cocaine Bear is one of those rare movies that requires no further explanation, everything you need to know about the story is right there in the title. It relies on one of humanity’s entertainment cheat codes: animals doing unusual, funny, or cute stuff. We can’t get enough of it, and Cocaine Bear leans hard into the dark side of that fascination to tell the (mostly fictional) story of the time a bear accidentally chowed down on a whole bunch of cocaine.

There is, however, a light side to our fascination with entertaining animals, and it recently helped save the life of a stranded hiker in an Alaskan National Park.

Distressed Hiker Pleads for Help Through Nature Cam

Alaska’s Katmai National Park is home to an estimated 2,200 brown bears, all of which start preparing for the coming winter around this time of year. The chance to see bears existing in their natural habitat draws millions of viewers every year to a collection of 12 webcams operated by A significant chunk of the viewership occurs during the annual Fat Bear Week competition, during which viewers vote on the bear who most successfully packed on the pounds for winter.

RELATED: Three-Legged Bear Breaks into Home to Drink White Claws

The contest has been running since 2014, and while this year’s hasn’t yet begun, a small collection of more devoted viewers are already tuning in to catch a glimpse of some of the pre-season ursine competitors.

Most of the viewership is focused on Brooks Falls, where bears regularly fish for salmon in the river and the odds of seeing them on camera are high. Other cameras, including one at the remote Dumpling Mountain command smaller audiences because animal sightings are less frequent. At the time of writing, the Brooks Falls feed had approximately 1,200 viewers watching two bears in the river; Dumpling Mountain had just 35 viewers taking in the slowly rolling image of vast mountain vistas, SYFY WIRE confirmed.

While the view at Brooks Falls is typically serene and uneventful, it was the scene of a subdued but critical situation on September 12. Around 3:30 p.m. local time, a man appeared on the camera looking a little haggard, dripping wet from the rain, and clearly in need of help. He looked into the camera and mouthed the words, “help me,” NPR reports.

A viewer posted a comment on the stream, calling attention to the hiker. That comment was seen by a volunteer moderator who passed it on to park rangers. After reviewing the footage to confirm the hiker’s location, he was retrieved, a little disheveled, but otherwise unharmed. It’s unclear how the hiker ended up in such a remote location, but authorities describe the area as remote, with difficult terrain. It’s roughly two miles from the nearest trail and regular fog makes it easy to get turned around. On the day in question, rain and fog reduced visibility to approximately 50 feet.

Fortunately, the quick actions of eagle-eyed viewers, volunteers, and park rangers resulted in a swift and happy ending for everyone involved. You can see the bears for yourself — and maybe even a stranded hiker — through the Katmai National Park livestreams. They’re about to plump up, you can’t miss them.

And you can see Cocaine Bear: The True Story streaming now on Peacock!