Trip Report ~ Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
08 - 15 May 2011
~ May 2011 ~
Sunday - 08 May
I left late morning and found a single gray wolf in the middle of Hellroaring about 1:45 p.m. At 3:15 p.m. I spotted a black bear sleeping under a tree viewed south of Coyote Overlook (note: a bison carcass (winter kill) is about 200 yards from the Fisherman's Pullout - was closer but moved by rangers - been there since Wednesday). At 3:50 p.m. I found a black wolf north east of Coyote Overlook. At 5:15 p.m. I had a grizzly north of picnic area. At 5:45 p.m. I spotted two bedded wolves north of Coyote Overlook (still a little action on the 3-4 carcasses north of Coyote). I spent to night in Mammoth Campground, it didn't freeze.
Monday - 09 May
At 5:35 a.m. I spotted a large grizzly on the bison carcass at Fisherman's. At 9:00 a.m. I found two black and three gray wolves north of Coyote. A THREE DOG DAY TODAY. At 1:10 P.M. I found a grizzly in Crystal Drainage, and soon joined by a larger grizzly. The small one ran off, but tired and faced the larger one. One moved east and one moved west. At 5:00 p.m. I spotted a black bear at the Hellroaring Trailhead. At 6:25 p.m. I found a grizzly sow with one two year old cub north of Soda Butte East. At 6:36 p.m. we had a gray wolf 75 yards off the road north and heading east from Dorothy's Knoll. At 7:11 p.m. I saw a large grizzly in the golden meadow above the Slough Creek Campground. I camped at Mammoth again tonight. Still only one loop open and I got the 2nd to last site.
Tuesday - 10 May
At 5:40 a.m. I was the first to arrive at Fisherman's Pullout. I watched three large grizzlies near the bison carcass - one on it, a second moved to the carcass as the first moved off, and a third was 30 yards away and quickly moved off and north crossing the road. I had also found a gray wolf leaving the area and it crossed the road and headed north and east. These grizzlies still aren't comfortable near the roads, even with a carcass after daylight. At 6:50 a.m. we had a grizzly in the rendezvous area. At 8:15 a.m. I saw a cinnamon black bear in the road across the river from Boulder Pullout. Weather note - still unsettled with low clouds making visibility an issue on the high meadows. At 12:00 a.m. we had a black bear on Jasper Bench south of Fisherman's. At 12:15 p.m. a new grizzly came to the river by the bison carcass from the south. Too many people at Fisherman's for it to cross the river and get to the carcass. Good viewing coming and going for upwards of at hour. At 4:45 p.m. the Lamar Canyon pack (the two black males, 06 female and 3 of the 4 yearlings moving west viewed from MidPoint. At 5:00 p.m. I saw the grizzly sow with large two year old cub north of Soda Butte East. It must be getting close to mating, as she would run off the cub and bite at it when it stopped to defend itself. But still together when I left. At 5:10 a.m. I saw a small grizzly northwest of Dorothy's Knoll. At 7:30 p.m. I had good viewing for an hour of four Blacktail Pack wolves (3 gray and one black) on a carcass in a pond this side of Hellroaring Creek (Apparently five wolves had killed it shortly after daylight this morning). Mammoth Campground full so stayed at outside the park for the night.
Wednesday - 11 May
At 5:50 a.m. I spotted three wolves (all gray), near the carcass at Hellroaring. At 7:30 a.m. I watched four Agate wolves high on Specimen Ridge (viewed from Bob's Knoll in Slough, long ways to watch from). At 9:00 a.m. there were two different grizzlies north of Coyote Overlook. A small colorful grizzly was uphill bedded, with a larger dark grizzly coming off the carcasses north of Coyote. The large one moved off, pushing the smaller grizzly uphill. This went on for over 30 minutes. At 12:55 p.m. I had two black wolves south of picnic. At 1:20 p.m. we had a grizzly south of Aspen Pullout (this grizzly has been hanging around the Lamar River construction site, apparently walking thru the area in the mornings around 8:30 a.m.). At 3:00 p.m. I watched a grizzly viewed from Hellroaring Overlook - a long ways away. At 5:00 p.m. I ran into John who had reports of wolves crossing the road in Little America. Soon after five Agate wolves were spotted south of Long Pullout. Good viewing as they moved west thru Crystal Drainage and eventually on to Jasper Bench viewed from Coyote Overlook. The Lamar Canyon wolves had been in that area in the morning (but not sightings). At 6:00 a.m. I spotted a black bear south in Slough Creek. Next I saw three wolves north of Coyote late in the day. A THREE DOG DAY TODAY. I heard that they opened the second loop at Mammoth Campground, but the weather turned really nice today and the campground was full. I headed outside the park for Silver Gate for the night.
Thursday - 12 May
At 5:55 a.m. I spotted a grizzly north of Fisherman's (the larger dark griz from yesterday). At 6:10 a.m. I saw two different grizzlies in the Slough Creek bottoms (my take a courting pair, with the larger following the smaller). At 8:25 a.m. I found a grizzly at the west end of Jasper Bench. At 8:40 a.m. We had a grizzly north of picnic (appears to be the smaller grizzly from north of Coyote yesterday). Strange as when I found it the grizzly was on the top of a bare ridge in snow. Then it walked and then ran down the hill and finding a carcass of some kind. Strange that the grizzly grew smaller when away from the snow and into grasses and not on the bare hillside. At 11:30 a.m. 755M crossed the road just west of Trout Lake (note: The pack had killed in the Pebble Creek Campground area - just west of there during the night.) At 12:30 p.m. the grizzly sow with one two year old north of Picnic. Great viewing for over an hour, and eventually there moved and ran the little grizzly off the carcass north of Coyote. At 4:15 p.m. I spotted a grizzly in the golden meadow above Slough Creek. At 4:25 p.m. I found a black bear high in the rocks above the golden eagle nest (Note: they opened Slough Creek road down to the first big pullout). At 5:15 p.m. we had a grizzly bear jam near long pullout. The construction site grizzly again. It crossed and recrossed the road finally heading south. Lots of photographers on the grizzly. Near dark we had a gray wolf north of the confluence still visiting the old carcass (now 23 days old). Actually another gray wolf arrived which I didn't see. Another night spent outside Silver Gate.
Friday - 13 May
At 5:20 a.m. 754M crossed the road at Round Prairie and soon after we spotted a gray wolf in Round Prairie heading west. At 5:50 a.m. I found a grizzly in the rendezvous area. At 6:50 a.m. we had another grizzly in Crystal Drainage. At 12:00 p.m. there was a grizzly north of picnic (the small colorful grizzly back again on the carcass). At 4:40 p.m. a GPS collared grizzly (with GPS device viewable on the underside of the collar) at Soda Butte Picnic Area. At 5:15 p.m. we had three different gray wolves north of Footbridge Pullout (apparently trying to cross the road to the south. At 6:30 p.m. I spotted a black bear on Garnett Hill. At 8:15 a.m. I a black bear north end of Phantom Lake. Mammoth Campground full again, so stayed outside the park for the night.
Saturday - 14 May
At 6:15 a.m. I spotted a grizzly south of Dorothy's. I left soon after, but it met up with another grizzly and wrestled for a while before going out of sight - I never found the second grizzly. At 7:50 a.m. there was a grizzly in the golden meadow above Slough Creek Campground. At 9:00 a.m. I found a grizzly south west of Footbridge (apparently had been on the carcass at the confluence earlier (they are calling that the never ending carcass). At 9:15 a.m. we had a grizzly south of the Soda Butte Cone, just across the river. At 9:30 a.m. I made my best spot of the week, a grizzly sow with two two year olds in a little clearing past bear meadow south of the Institute (2.5 plus miles). Note by evening she had made it to bench across the river across from the Institute. At 11:45 a.m. I spotted a black bear in the west end of the Narrows. At 11:55 a.m. we saw the construction site grizzly in Crystal Drainage. At 2:25 p.m. we had a grizzly high on Norris Mountain viewed from the Confluence. The viewing from the confluence was good with a repeat viewing of both grizzlies in the area from the morning. At 8:30 p.m. heading for Silver Gate for the evening I had two gray wolves cross the road north to south just east of the Soda Butte Cone.
Sunday - 15 May
At 5.35 a.m. the morning started with a grizzly at the confluence. Next 5:45 a.m. we had a grizzly on the really old carcass at Fisherman's (this was the grizzly with the roughed up ear that was on the carcass at Wrecker two weeks ago) -- good news, it had both eyes (I reported only one eye two weeks ago). Good viewing as it turned and turned the carcass to get every morsel. At 6:00 a.m. a second smaller grizzly was north and west of Fisherman's. It was heading towards the road and river, and I found it on the road and then swimming the river near narrows east. Doug from Gardiner was out today and found a grizzly this side of the river from Trashcan. I located a grizzly near the tree line. Then we had the black bear in the narrows - west end of the Narrows about 7:30 a.m. And Doug again found my last grizzly for the trip in Crystal Drainage.
The east gate opened but was closed by a landslide (still closed when I left Sunday). The road to Cody (thru Cooke City is now open and we had been seeing a lot of equipment heading for the Beartooths. Strangely the road from Tower to Tower store was to open on May 13th, didn't, must have been a concern for rocks near the Osprey nest (my guess). If anyone is expecting to camp early in Slough Creek or Pebble Creek - they are talking July 1 for opening (they always have trouble with the runoff which this year will be heavy. Had a golden eagle catch a male Merganser duck just above me (20 yards) at the confluence early one morning. It plucked away and ate it there. I hear the Dunraven grizzly with two cubs is now collared numbered 665 (see what killing 14 chickens in the fall in Gardiner will get you). She is now known to be on the south side of Dunraven Pass. A coyote den with at least 4 puppies south of Dorothy's Knoll (note, I didn't see them the last two days - perhaps moved).
People seen. Bear watchers: Laurie from Helena, David from Bozeman, Margaret from Bozeman (day trip), and Carma and Jennings from Rexburg. Wolf watchers: Don from Vermont, Laurie and Dan, Rick, Jim and Joelene from Iowa, Shaun and her mother from England, and Jerry from England. Other people. Paul from Tulsa, Carl, Roger and Kay from northern Idaho.
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