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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

26 - 29 July 2007 Trip Report

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Thursday - July 26th

I took Friday off and left work at 5:00 p.m. for Yellowstone. It's really getting crowded and busy with tourists now, but I made great time. Most of the traffic is coming the other ways. Anyway at 8:15 p.m. Ralph called me on the CB saying he had the grizzly with two coy's in the bottoms with another grizzly not too far from them. Yellowstone is finally getting some rain, and it was raining most of the way in and most of the night. Ralph had campsite #18 at tower, and it was great with the sounds of rain on the car sleeping Thursday night

Friday July 27th

It doesn't get daylight to about 5:45 a.m. this time of year, so I can sleep in a little in the mornings now. At 5:45 a.m. I found the grizzly with the one on the east side of Honeymoon Clearing (this is the roadside grizzly but she was staying away from the road this weekend). At 5:50 a.m. I found the collared grizzly with three coy's way back in the bottoms. I was at trash can # 57 and Ralph was above me at trash can # 58. He had a lone grizzly out below # 58 and I finally went up the road to see it. This bear was out until 11:00 a.m. and then out again from 4:15 p.m. till dark. I visited the new bathroom pullout above Chittenden Road, and found a found grizzly in the far right clearing. The two coy's are still twice the size of the three coy's (must have been born later). The sow with the two coy's finally went over Honeymoon, while about 6 big bull elk circled up and watched them. They were about 120 yards apart when the cubs decided to charge the bull elk. They must have gone about 40-50 yards until they thought better of it and returned to the sow It was still partly cloudy today, so I got a nap in at the old bathroom pullout after lunch at Roosevelt Lodge. Awaking I headed back to trash can # 57 and found a grizzly sow with three coy's way across on roof top (Mirror Plateau). I had glimpses of the sow with three coy's several times back in the gap area and the lone grizzly was out until dark. There were rumors of a black collared wolf north of Canyon crossing the road. Later they closed the Cascade Lake trail. The wolves had made a kill on the trail and the first hikers walked into them. It was the Agate Pack.

Saturday July 28th

At 5:20 a.m. I heard howling way back behind the fox ridge (the bare clearing to the east that runs to the south and had the coyote den a few years ago). Found the grizzly sow with the light yearling way back in the bottoms around 5:45 a.m. At 5:55 a.m. I spotted the wolves at the same time Ralph did behind the fox ridge. We counted three times - 12, 13, and 12 with some of them pups. But the sun was coming up and the viability was poor. We had them for over 30 minutes and four remained bedded until almost 10 a.m. At 6:40 a.m. the collared grizzly with the three coys was not as far back in the bottoms as yesterday. At 7:10 a.m. the grizzly with the two coy's came out in the bottom below trash can # 58. She was out until dark, never once going out of site or into the trees. It got into the low 80's in the afternoon. At 6:20 p.m. Ralph found two grizzlies on the par 5. We thought it was the sow with one yearling, but these were two large grizzlies, one dark and one medium brown with silver (have no idea what relationship they were--speculated that two large grizzlies met up and decided to graze and move the same way). At 8:30 p.m. someone pointed out a grizzly in a small clearing behind the fox ridge (2-3 minutes spotting). Both Friday and Saturday saw no moose all day. Then after 8:30 p.m. both nights, three kind of nice Bull Moose would show up in the mineral lick below trash can # 57. I saw a badger near the trash can # 57 pullout. I spotted a mule doe with twin foes at the campsite at Tower. Lots of bears are still out. Ralph ventured to Hayden Valley in the later a.m. and then to Lamar Valley in late afternoon, had 22 or 23 grizzlies and not one black bear.

Sunday July 29th

I heard howling at trash can # 57 before and after daylight, but no sightings. I went to the pullout on the Tower side of trash can # 57 trying to locate the wolves, and found the collared sow with three coy's in a close clearing (1/4 mile) below me. Ralph was up at above trash can # 57 at Boulder pullout (half way between #57 and # 58), and called in the grizzly with the two coy's still down in the bottoms.

Other news: The 1/2 closure signs are still up from trash can #58 to Mae West, but the sow with two coy's behaved herself this weekend. Saturday morning a yearling bison carcass was found just west of Coyote overlook 75 yards from the road. Four wolves, three coyotes, and one small, lucky grizzly were on the carcass. The small grizzly covered it, and except for a few walk-a-bouts, slept on the carcass all day and was still on it Sunday a.m. They closed the road from fisherman to Coyote Overlook, and then closed Coyote Overlook too. Brain Chan was having a rough day. Every once in a while, a tourist would stop or drop someone off to take pictures of the sleeping grizzly at 75 yards. The Druid Pack moved thru the valley a few days before I came up - first time in 25 days they had been seen. The Slough Creek Pack has been seen every day or so either in the west end of Lamar Valley in Slough Creek, usually in the bottoms. Rumors are their rendezvous area is way up to the north of Fisherman's. The Hayden Pack has moved from Otter Creek to Alum Creek, quite a bit farer away now.

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