Trip Report ~ Bear & Wolf Sightings ~ by Bill Hamblin
25 May - 04 June 2012
~ May 2012 ~
Friday - 25 May
I left after breakfast with the old work crew. Stormy weather kept Dunraven Pass from opening today. At 11:05 a.m. the black bear sow with two black cubs of the year (coy's) at Rainy Lake. At 11:35 a.m. I saw a black bear at Calcite. At 3:55 p.m. I spotted a black bear sow with one black and one cinnamon coy at Petrified Tree viewed from Elk Creek. At 4:10 p.m. I found a black bear north and east of the Slough Creek bathroom. At 5:35 p.m. we watched a grizzly in Coffee viewed from trashcan pullout. At 5:40 p.m. I spotted a grizzly north of picnic pullout. At 8:20 p.m. I found a dark grizzly crosses the road between coyote and Dorothy's knoll pullouts heading south towards the river. I spent the first six nights in Tower Campground this trip and the remaining nights out of the park near Silver Gate.
Saturday - 26 May
Had 5 inches of snow on the car when I woke up this morning. At 7:50 a.m. I found a grizzly in the Slough Creek bottoms. At 8:20 a.m. we had a courting pair of grizzlies in the yellow grass meadow north and east of the Slough Creek bathroom. At 11:30 a.m. we found 838M and a black wolf south of peregrine pullout. I had my only three dog day spotting a fox, coyote and wolf. At 2:10 p.m. the black bear sow with one black and one cinnamon coy werenear the Petrified Tree. At 3:30 p.m. I spotted a black bear at Elk Creek. At 4:00 p.m. we watched the black bear sow with two cinnamon cubs on Tower Hill viewed from Elk Creek. At 5:00 p.m. my last bear sighting was the grizzly sow with one coy on Specimen Ridge (she had two but only one now).
Sunday - 27 May
At 6:30 a.m. I found a grizzly hunting elk calves north of coyote. At 7:15 a.m. I spotted a large black bear in the rendezvous area. At 7:30 a.m. we had a grizzly north of picnic pullout. At 9:00 a.m. we watched a courting pair of grizzlies in the yellow grass meadow north and east of the Slough Creek bathroom. As we watched the courting pair, the sow ran away from the boar moving down towards Slough Creek in good sight. Then another grizzly appeared in the yellow grass meadow and soon the boar joined it. The new grizzly turned out to be a sow and the new couple turned rocks together before disappearing over a ridge. At 10:45 a.m. the grizzly sow with one coy was seen on Specimen Ridge. At 11:00 a.m. we had a cinnamon black bear in Crystal Drainage. There are two big horn sheep lambs at Calcite this morning. At 2:30 p.m. we had a black bear at Petrified Tree. At 3:00 p.m. we watched a large black bear south of Peregrine pullout. At 4:20 p.m. we ran into a bear jam in the Lamar Canyon narrows, a large black bear. At 7:15 p.m. we found an uncollared gray wolf east of footbridge that finally crossed the road going north towards the den area. At 8:30 p.m. we found a grizzly south of long pullout. At 8:45 p.m. I spotted the black bear sow with two black coy's near the Yellowstone River Bridge.
Monday - 28 May
At 9:00 a.m. we had seven wolves of the Lamar Canyon pack cross the road north to south heading out towards Cache Creek. All the wolf watchers had them across the river and howling when I arrived. The only parking place left was on the east end of footbridge. As I arrived 755M crossed the pullout and then crossed the Soda Butte Creek bridge (I was the only one to see him cross, my first wolf on the bridge). At 9:55 a.m. we had a grizzly in the yellow grass meadow viewed from the Slough Creek bathroom. At 10:50 a.m. I found a black bear sow with one brown and one black coy near old 9"s den in Little America. At 11:00 a.m. we had a black bear near Floating Island. I found my first antelope fawn near the arch at Gardiner this morning. At 4:30 p.m. we found the grizzly sow with one coy on Specimen. At 5:15 p.m. we had a courting pair of grizzlies high up north of Slough Creek (spotted by Ed and Bob from Utah). At 6:15 p.m. I found a small cinnamon black bear north of the Institute. At 6:50 p.m. I spotted a black bear south of trashcan. At 7:20 p.m. we had a black bear at Soda Butte picnic area. At 9:00 p.m. my last sighting for the day wasthe black bear sow with two black coy's near Rainy Lake.
Tuesday - 29 May
At 8:15 a.m. I started out with a grizzly in the aspens in the main drainage north of Slough Creek bathroom. At 9:00 a.m. I found a black bear near Junction Butte. At 3:15 p.m. we had a grizzly on the backside of Specimen (yes, Dunraven Pass finally opened this morning). At 3:30 p.m. Laurie from Helena showed me a grizzly in 10-4 clearing viewing west from the new bathroom pullout near Chittenden Road. At 5:20 p.m. the black bear sow with two brown cubs were near the Petrified Tree. At 5:40 p.m. Laurie D. spotted a black bear way over near Little Buffalo viewed from Elk Creek. At 6:15 p.m. a black bear sow with one brown and one black coy near Specimen Ridge viewed from long pullout. At 6:30 p.m. a grizzly in the yellow grass meadow. At 7:25 p.m. we had a pair of grizzlies in the bowl south of the Institute. We originally thought these were a courting pair, but eventually agreed that they were two larger grizzlies hanging out close to each other. At 8:20 p.m. we found a courting pair of grizzlies in penny lane. At 9:15 p.m. my last sighting for the day was a black bear close to Rainy Lake.
Wednesday - 30 May
At 6:10 a.m. the same two grizzlies in the bowl south and east of the Institute. At 9:00 a.m. we had two grizzlies wrestling and playing in a snow bank north and west of Mid Point (again two larger grizzlies together, equal sized). At 11:00 a.m. the grizzly sow with one coy moved to the middle ridge south of Slough Creek bathroom. At 5:00 p.m. we had a grizzly in the rendezvous area. At 7:15 p.m. we watched a black bear sow with one black and one brown coy viewed from Elk Creek.
Thursday - 31 May
At 5:25 a.m. I started out with a black bear south of fishermans pullout. At 5:40 a.m. we had two grizzlies north of coyote (looked equal size and larger bears). At 5:50 a.m. we watched the grizzly sow with one coy in the middle clearing south of Slough Creek observed from coyote overlook. At 6:30 a.m. we found a large dark grizzly in the bowl viewed from the Institute. At 6:45 a.m. I spotted a dark grizzly viewed from the Institute to the north and east. It went out of view so I went to Hubbard Hill. It ended up being a courting pair of grizzlies, the second I had not seen from the Institute. At 9:15 a.m. we watched a black bear sow with one black and one cinnamon coy south of Slough Creek. At 6:00 p.m. we had a nice cinnamon bear in Crystal Drainage.
Dunraven pass opened on May 29th. The Beartooth Highway opened on May 31st. 838M (Big Blaze) was found dead in Antelope Creek, killed by other wolves, undoubtedly by the Mollies Pack.
Anne W. showed me the Blue Herron rookery near LeHardys Rapids south of Canyon (at least four adults in the trees). Lots of babies now, elk calves, big horn sheep lambs, mountain goat kids, antelope fawns, but no deer fawns yet. The two eagle chicks south of coyote overlook are getting big. The two owl chicks in the Lamar Canyon narrows are big, but still white. Bluebird nests at the Aspen Pullout and down the Hellroaring Trailhead road and near Tower Junction. The peregrine is nesting near the peregrine pullout near Calcite, but this side of the river down in a difficult place to view. All the osprey nests near Calcite are abandoned, but the one by the pullout near the steep rocks has a pair resettling in. No coyote or badger dens located yet this year. They are going to work on the road between Tower Junction and Chittenden this year, hate to see the jams this summer. Six mallard ducklings just off the road in a pond west of the Blacktail Road entrance. Geese chicks and duckling (I hear) in Floating Island Pond. The Blacktail Road remains closed. Moose still spotted near Pebble Creek campground and east of there.
Two pieces of grizzly information on this trip. John and Randy and Jean and Margaret ran into a Montana Bear researcher at Slough Creek one morning. The grizzly with one coy, previously with two, is number 663, a 8 year old sow. The second information concerns scarface. On Saturday or Sunday of Memorial Day weekend scarface made a trip through the Tower Campground. Carma and Jennings were back at camp and took pictures of him and his track. The next day I was washing up prior to 5:00 a.m. in the Tower Store restroom when Josh from Utah came in and told me that there was a bear in the parking lot. I didn't see him, but it was scarface. I plan to walk a little more carefully going to the restroom at the store from now on.
~ June 2012 ~
Friday - 01 June
At 5:45 a.m. I started with a grizzly south of the Institute. At 6:00 a.m. I found the grizzly sow with one coy in the middle ridge south of Sough Creek. At 6:05 a.m. we had a cinnamon black bear south of fishermans. At 6:35 a.m. John and Randy found a grizzly on Norris viewed from trashcan. It ended up being two equal sized grizzlies. At 6:45 a.m. up hill on Norris I found another two grizzlies, again, appeared to be equal sized. At 7:20 a.m. we watched a grizzly with two coy's on the #2 finger of Norris viewed from footbridge pullout. They went out of sight so we moved to the Soda Butte east pullout to find them on the # 1 finger with great viewing. At 8:00 a.m. we had a grizzly with one coy high under the snow crevice to the south and west of footbridge pullout. Long viewing but they were out in a clearing for well over 30 minutes. At 8:30 a.m. Jean from Florida found a grizzly near where we lost the grizzly sow with two coy's near the # 1 finger. A lone grizzly. At 9:30 a.m. I spotted a grizzly on dead puppy hill that moved to the bottom and moved west across the sagebrush flats. At 9:30 a.m. I found a black bear below ski slope viewed from footbridge, that ended up having one black and one brown coy. At 1:15 p.m. Tracey and Anita from Billings showed me the grizzly with one yearling in Hellroaring looking from lower Hellroaring. Nice viewing but couldn't see her GPS collar, but believe it was her with the yearling. While viewing the grizzly family at 1.25 miles, a large black bear came from behind and decided to go to sleep under a tree (surprised how many people wanted to look at a close black bear rather that distant grizzlies). Around 2:00 p.m. we had a large cinnamon black bear made a brief appearance north of the road while watching the black bear and grizzly family. At 3:45 p.m. we had two black bears courting near the Petrified Tree pullout. At 8:00 p.m. we spotted a gray wolf on the skyline on Specimen Ridge viewed from coyote overlook. At 8:15 p.m. my last sighting of the day was a black bear south of Slough Creek.
Saturday - 02 June
At 5:45 a.m. I spotted a grizzly in the bowl south of the Institute. At 6:30 a.m. we had a grizzly crossing the sagebrush flats south of hitching post viewed from footbridge pullout. At 6:40 a.m. I found a black bear in K meadow. At 7:30 a.m. we watched a black bear above the Petrified Tree viewed from near Bob's Knob. At 7:45 a.m. I spotted a black bear sow with two coys also above the Petrified Tree viewed from Bob's Knob (too far to get the colors on the coys). At 7:55 a.m. the grizzly sow with one coy on the middle ridge south of Slough Creek. At 9:15 a.m. we spotted a cinnamon black bear near Tower Junction. At 9:35 a.m. we had a courting pair of grizzlies in the par # 5 in Antelope Creek. At 11:05 a.m. we watched a grizzly in blister rust viewed far to the west. At 12:30 p.m. the black bear with two black coy's was near Tower Junction. At 4:15 p.m. we had a black bear above the # 1 finger of Norris. At 5:00 p.m. I came close to hitting an uncollared gray wolf far east in the Soda Butte Valley this side of Trout Lake.
Sunday - 03 June
At 5:25 a.m. we had wolf 754M south of footbridge. He finally crossed the Soda Butte Creek and then the road heading back to the den area. At 6:05 a.m. I found a grizzly high south and east of penny lane. At 6:30 a.m. we found a large black bear on the # 1 finger of Norris. At 6:40 a.m. we watched a grizzly high in K meadow. At 6:45 a.m. the grizzly with two coy's was in a clearing south of the # 1 finger of Norris. At 6:55 a.m. I spotted a grizzly sow with one coy high south and west of footbridge below the snow crevice. At 7:10 a.m. the grizzly sow with one coy was seen on the middle ridge south of Slough Creek. At 7:50 a.m. we had a black bear near Tower Junction. At 8:00 a.m. I watched a cinnamon bear just off the road on the road above the Tower Campground exit. At 8:30 a.m. six mollies bedded in Antelope Creek viewed from trashcan # 58 (later in the evening at 6:00 p.m.) I had eight mollies (3 black and 5 gray) on honeymoon clearing at Antelope Creek. At 9:15 a.m. we watched a grizzly on the backside of Specimen Ridge south of gunsight. At 4:20 p.m. we found a black bear with one brown and one black cub south of peregrine pullout in Little America in the treeline. At 8:30 p.m. we had a courting pair of grizzlies north of coyote overlook.
Monday - 04 June
I was leaving today for a couple days in Idaho Falls, so left before 10:00 a.m. At 5:35 a.m. I spotted a grizzly north of picnic area. At 5:50 a.m. I found a grizzly sow with one coy in the meadow we call K-2 (behind and south of K meadow). At 6:00 a.m. we had a grizzly sow with two coys under the snow crevice from footbridge (about the same place we had the sow with one coy yesterday). At 6:15.a.m. we had a black bear under the crevice. At 6:30 a.m. there was a black bear south of Soda Butte cone in the trees also viewed from footbridge. At 6:45 a.m. I found a grizzly in the bowl south of the Institute viewed from footbridge. At 7:45 a.m. we watched a grizzly sow with two coys in a clearing south of the #1 finger of Norris. At 8:35 a.m. I found a grizzly with two coy's from YES pullout behind bear meadow. A good morning, 13 grizzlies with 7 coys - getting good for bear watching.
People seen on this trip. Most of who spotted and then showed me bears and wolves this trip: Bear watchers: John and Randy from near Seattle, Wayne from Washington, Carma and Jennings from Idaho, Ed and Robert from Utah, Jean and Margaret from Florida and South Carolina, Mike (UPS) from Illinois, Dave and Mark from Utah, Doug M. from Gardiner, Tracey and Anita from Billings, and I drove by Richard and Rita from Nebraska. Wolf Watchers: Doug M. from Silver Gate, Ray and Lynn from Florida, Gerry from the Scotland, Sian from the UK, Anne W. and Don from Vermont, Dan and Laurie L, Rick M and Rick and Maureen from New York. Others: Chicago Bob and his wife Margaret, John H and wife from Nevada, Pete B, John K, Tonya at the NE entrance, McNeil L. from Gardiner, and Josh from Utah.
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by John William Uhler
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