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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

02 - 04 May 2008 Trip Report

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Friday - May 2nd

I left work at noon. I had four sand hill cranes on the still iced lake in Island Park. I saw a kingfisher on a telephone line at Last Chance. I saw my first moose of the year in middle of the Snake River at Mack's Inn. Entering the park, a crowd gathered near 7 Mile Bridge near Madison. A large black bear was resting on a log about 600 yards off the road. Around 5:00 p.m. seven wolves from the Slough Creek Pack made an elk kill south of fisherman's pullout (best viewed from coyote overlook). They were still there when I arrived around 6:00 p.m. Per the usual, a few of the wolves were still to the north side of the road, howling at the ones on the kill to the south. Around 8:00 p.m. I located a collared grizzly coming into the carcass. Near 8:30 p.m. had a black wolf near the road near hitching post (this in one of the two -one black and one gray wolf that had been really comfortable near the roads lately). I spent the night in Silver Gate, both Friday and Saturday nights only got down to around 25 degrees, clear both nights. In fact Saturday morning located Juniper with three moons just before daylight.

Saturday - May 3rd

At 5:35 a.m. I had enough light to find a grizzly still on the carcass. There were three wolves around the carcass, and soon the grizzly left and seven wolves showed up on it. At 6:30 a.m. found a wolf at the Slough Creek den. I was told that it was number 380. No pups seen at the den. However, Wayne and Maryann had 1 black pup at Oxbow and then Sunday 5 pups were spotted at Oxbow. Jim, a wolf watcher called and had activity at Round Prairie. Had 6 or more Druids, and one black yearling dug out a coyote den (5 or 6 were killed). Arriving back in the Little America area, I heard that they had a courting pair of grizzlies at Junction Butte. Actually they were sub adults, Wayne had spotted them, and they were playing and looked like they with mating, but actually playing, they were 2 1/2 year old sub adults. They had been there for over an hour no more than 75 yards off the road. I hear one approached and touched a new car (quite a souvenir for the tourist, grizzly claw marks on the hood). They napped and then put on another hour show before crossing the road and headed south. The weather was beautiful, I spent over two hours on Dave's Hill with Jason and Debbie and two of their friends from Virginia. The thought was maybe a pup would appear at the Slough Creek den site. When we arrived we viewed, what we think were the three pregnant females. All left the den and one when back in. The two other wolves moved around, bedding and moved and re-bedding. No pups, but quite a nice visit. I ran into Cliff Browne who updated me on the sub adults at Junction Butte, and he saw what he thought was a grizzly with two yearling cubs south of the curve pullout near Junction Butte. Around 2:30 p.m. I located a large dark grizzly on the high clearing south and east of Boulder Pullout, on an old carcass. At 4:50 p.m. had a grizzly north of the curve pullout, this one had a nice yellow band behind the shoulders, and must have crossed the road, but only walking away towards the river when I arrived. At 7:50 p.m. I spotted a grizzly north of the picnic area (apparently he had to be pushed off the road by the rangers). At 8:30 p.m. had a black collared wolf east of Footbridge, 480M the alpha male I believe. I spotted a nice fox on upper Barronette on the way out of the park, so I had my first THREE DOG DAY.

Sunday - May 4th

At 5:45 a.m. I found two black wolves and the collared grizzly on a carcass just north of midpoint (100 yards). These two wolves crossed the road and came down to visit us (three or four cars in the pullout). I could have spit on them twice. Now there are two black wolves and one gray wolf, which like the road. It sure appears that they have been feed. Boy, those wolves are really large at that range 5-10 feet. Later a few of the Slough wolves were around the carcass, but soon moved up to the bench - had a court of 14, leaving only two back at the den. Around 8:00 p.m. I had the two more wolves high north of Picnic Area checking out a few elk. Around 9:30 a.m. the Slough Creek wolves came back, I located them on Salad Bowl heading west. Went to Slough and most of them crossed into view there, but a few went back over to the Salad Bowl again. The week saw a lot of snow melting. Floating Island is still ice covered, but looks slushy. The sand hill cranes aren't waiting, they are bringing in mud to build up their island for their nest

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