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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

06 - 08 July 2007 Trip Report

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Friday - July 6th

It was hot out in the west with the temperature at 91 degrees when I left work around 2:00 p.m. By the time I made Antelope Creek, it cooled down a bit, but no rain, and the temperature had dropped to 73. I found a small grizzly feeding in # 3 about 5:30 p.m. Around 6:30 p.m. the grizzly sow with one yearling came out down below in the bottoms. I was still at trash can # 58 showing the tourists both these grizzlies when one girl using my scope said that there were two grizzlies in # 3. Sure enough another small grizzly came out. The first stood up and instead of running away, met the other. They must have known each other as they played and wrestled for almost an hour. They ran down into the heavy timber but later reappeared in # 3 grazing no more than 15 yards apart. Planning on camping in Silver Gate, I left for Lamar Valley hoping to get a little closer to my sleeping area prior to dark. At 8:40 p.m. I saw four wolves and a grizzly south of coyote overlook. Apparently a bison carcass was in the river. It was viewable from both Dorothy's Knoll and Fisherman's pullout, but not coyote overlook. The grizzly was coming across the bench, and the wolves came off the hill into the river corridor. Meanwhile I found a grizzly sow with three coy's high in the salad bowl. On the way to Lamar, near the Yellowstone Picnic area, I saw a fox just off the road. It was another three dog day for me today.

Saturday - July 7th

I started the morning at Dorothy's Knoll. The grizzly was still on the carcass and a black wolf was bedded near bye. Rick M. called on the radio just after 5:00 a.m. saying that the alpha male was crossing the road going to the north (I missed that). After 40 minutes or so the grizzly got up and headed towards the river since the carcass was south of the river. We figured it wanted a drink, then something spooked him and he ran straight away and disappeared over the bench. Around 5:30 a.m. I spotted a small grizzly near ski slope and another small grizzly just below the salad bowl. By this time all the pullouts were full of wolf watchers so I headed to Antelope Creek. At 8:10 a.m. I spotted a grizzly in the bottoms below trash can #58. At 9:00 a.m. the grizzly sow with two coy's (the road side grizzly) was best viewed from Mae West. Frank and Louyne pulled over and watched her and the two coy's from Mae West. The red tailed hawk nest still has two chicks that are rather big now still in the nest. The grizzly moved over the hill so Frank and Louyne and I headed for trash can # 58. We could see the single grizzly below # 58 and most of the time the sow with two coy's at the same time. It was good viewing for over an hour. Frank headed to Baronet to watch mountain goats and I found a shady spot at the Dunraven Picnic area for about an hour nap. Around 3:30 p.m. we had a great rain/hail storm lasting about 40 minutes. It was a real gully washer, first rain in a long time in Yellowstone. Frank and Louyne returned and we set up at trash can # 58 again for the late afternoon. The collared sow grizzly with three coy's was out way back in the bottoms, far left of the gap around 4:30 p.m. Around 5:00 p.m. I had a grizzly in # 2 in the rocks. It was hard to see and I was still wondering what it was, when they reappeared in # 3. The sow grizzly and one yearling stayed out for over an hour and the small grizzly below # 58 was out again too. Frank and Louyne were only up for the day so they headed home around 6:30 p.m. and I headed to Lamar. Apparently there was a wolf viewable around 5:20 p.m. near the carcass, but when I arrived I could only find a grizzly south of coyote overlook and one for a few minutes on A-Z clearing. I headed in a little early since my camping spot is on national forest land. There is only room for one or two, so it's better to get there to see if anyone is there. It's been a good spot all year, with no one in there. But tonight it had a car in it. Fortunately it was Ralph N. He had decided to come up since the weather had cooled. Before the storm it was 81 degrees, near the end of the storm it dropped to 50, then came up to 73 or so again. Ralph had just arrived and glassed Sunlight Basin on the way in with no success.

Sunday - July 8th

It was a little cooler in the a.m., somewhere in the 40's. We couldn't find a thing in Lamar except a lot of wolf watchers and no wolves that I could see. Moving to the Slough Creek stop sign I found a large grizzly high up on the backside of the salad bowl. Then I found a grizzly with one yearling way south across the river. They were playing and wrestling for a few minutes, then out of sight (I checked with Ralph and he and I think this was possibly the second or third sighting only, south of the road all year. Just before leaving Ralph saw a small grizzly in a small clearing in Crystal Drainage. We headed for Dunraven. Ralph left first but was shopping for a camp site at Tower, so I arrived first at trash can # 58. They had the sow with yearling in the bottom below # 58. I found the small grizzly in the bottom of Honeymoon. Frank and Diane Benn arrived to watch the grizzlies. They were staying at Slough Creek and had to leave mid week. Ralph called on the radio sawing that the grizzly with two coy's was out near Mae West. He suggested the Mae West pullout so we headed up. The grizzly family was right above the road above the first pullout headed down hill (the one where the marmots come out and play). We watched for a while and then were amazed that the grizzly came down and crossed the road right thru the parking lot where the marmots hang out. The gap she picked couldn't have been more than 6 feet between the parked cars. This bear is going to get into trouble. There weren’t any rangers around. It's an accident waiting to happen. Other news: Wolf 524 was found dead in Little America. Apparently only a few teeth were left because of disease. The Slough Creek pack killed two black bear cubs in Lamar Valley north of coyote overlook a few days ago. It's a mystery to me. Rick M. told me about it as he watched it. Apparently the cubs were yearlings, which makes no sense this time of year because coy's are still with the sow this time of year). But he described the bears as big enough to drag on the ground as the wolves carried off the carcasses. Wolf watching remains the worst/slowest in years. The Druids only come down into the Lamar once or twice a week usually on a scent marking trip. The Slough Creek pack, visible this weekend because of the bison carcass usually has been viewable only a couple of times a week too. The wolves on Antelope Creek, the Agates are few and far apart. It fact the last good sighting of one then two wolves was on Specimen Ridge a few days before. The best watching is the Hayden Pack. Anne W. was up for the weekend and had been out with puppies, (including the white wolf), for a good time on Saturday.

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