Even the bears in Alaska are feeling the heat from Washington, D.C.
For months, the bears of Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska have been packing on pounds, preparing for hibernation and, unbeknownst to them, Fat Bear Week. However, the popular bracket-style voting contest is up in the air this year, thanks to a looming federal government shutdown.
The shutdown, which could begin as soon as Sunday, would halt the launch of the contest scheduled to begin the same week on Wednesday.
The National Park Service – which runs the official Fat Bear Week website – typically goes through a process to determine essential employees, which tend to be personnel who protect park resources and provide safety assistance.
In the event of a shutdown, NPS sites across the country, gates will be locked, visitor centers will be closed, and thousands of park rangers will be furloughed. While the bears will continue to get fat, the March-Madness style brackets website won't be updated.
Contributing: Nathan Diller, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fat Bear Week 2023: Contest won't happen during a government shutdown