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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal ~ 2008 Trip Report Page

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ 09 - 11 May 2008 Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Friday - May 9th

Unsettled weather for my trip to Yellowstone today. Snowing but not sticking. When I arrived near Tower Junction, Ralph told me about a grizzly on a carcass at Wrecker Pullout. After the rangers said it had left, a photographer showed it to me, still there about 90 yards down the trail from the parking lot. I'm guessing one of the two sub adults from last weekend. The visibility improved a little and about 5:15 p.m. found a large grizzly walking in the Slough Creek bottoms heading west. When the weather improved a little more, found nine wolves at the den site (eight remained outside and one re-entered the den). On the way back to Mammoth, saw another, sub adult I think walking under the Yellowstone Bridge heading south. At 8:15 p.m. Ralph found a large grizzly on a carcass from Hellroaring Overlook. Heading home, Ralph, Jack G, and I stopped near Frog Rock (Children's Fire Walk). I was in the lot and found a bedded black wolf 400 yards or so from the parking lot. Ralph and Jack were around the corner and had a group of 20-25 bull elk bunched up. They joined me. Soon the elk started running at top speed right towards us. Dirt and snow was being kicked up, the sounds of 50 or so hoofs breaking sagebrush and a lone wolf chasing was great for about 40 seconds. They turned and crossed the road right in front of us, with the wolf only yards behind. Really a great show. We moved down the road but never relocated the bull elk herd or the wolf again. We had three other wolves, one black, one gray and one collared gray that must have been afraid of the road, walked around looking this way, but re-bedded. We stayed in Mammoth both nights. Only got down to about 25 degrees.

Saturday - May 10th

6:00 a.m. the small grizzly was still on the carcass at Wrecker Pullout. Bob L. was there, he is working on a bear film, and actually went down and got some good stuff on the grizzly with three two year olds at Oxbow in the Tetons. Around 8:00 a.m. had 2 or 3 wolves near the den site at Slough. They move around, and re-bed sometimes you count 2 and there are 3-4. At 11:00 a.m. Ralph had a cinnamon bear south of the west end of Little America, west of #9's old den. At 1:45 p.m. had a grizzly high on the big clearing to the left/east and south of the Slough Creek stop sign. It was moving up mostly on the sky line, and disappeared for 10 minutes, but reappeared higher on the ridge for another 10-15 minutes. About 7:30 p.m. Ralph found the black bear sow with two coy's on Garnett Hill, a little farther west then the den area she was out last weekend. Around 8:00 p.m. Ralph called from Hellroaring with a family group (haven't had any grizzly family groups so I headed there quickly). Ralph deduced a sow with a two year old cub, with the smaller cub following the larger sow -- although not moving very far. Later we had to revise that sighting as the large one mounted the smaller one. They must have been tired, because they bedded close together and napped until we left. Also had a black bear on Garnett Hill and could also view the black sow with two coy's while watching the courting pair all from upper Hellroaring.

Sunday - May 11th

At 5:40 a.m. could see enough to find the courting pair no more than 20 yards from where they were Saturday night. Passing Slough Creek, the wolf people reported a pup at the den entrance, I pulled over and yep, the pup was larger than I would have guessed at this time. Looked about 1/2 the size of a coyote, but that was at 2 1/4 miles from the den entrance. I headed for Lamar, the Slough Creek pack, at least 8 wolves were busy digging out a coyote den in the rockslide area just north of Fisherman's. No parking, so headed to Coyote Overlook and only saw three of the wolves, a black and two grays. Starting to head slowly home, Ralph called from Boulder Pullout. He had a grizzly right on the top of Junction Butte. Nice grizzly, not to big I'm thinking. I located something black across the river north of Boulder and was guessing bison or bear, but it turned out to be a black wolf. I located another canine and after considerable debate, the consensus was a gray wolf. They later crossed the river and Anne located the dark one looking at us at about 100 yards. We assumed the gray had crossed the road to the south, but Jim and Judy W. had viewed a carcass just to the west and north of Boulder that we haven't seen. Both the grizzly and the gray wolf were negotiating the ownership as I left for points to the west. Found a lone black bear on the east end of Garnett Hill. Stopping at Upper Hellroaring ran into Wayne and Maryann K. Soon Carma from Idaho found a black bear on Garnett Hill which turned out to be the sow with the two coy's. Just 1/2 mile from Idaho, a vehicle meeting me flashed his lights and was waving. I slowed down to discover a large gray wolf walking the edge of the road (heading into Montana, just having just left Idaho).

Other news: Wayne K. found a black fox (with only a short white part on the tip of its tail). I haven't ever seen one of those. The sand hill's have two eggs on the nest at Floating Island. No one has seen any action from the Oxbow den area (might have moved the den, but at least 5 pups with them). Only two different pups seen so far at Slough den. It appears that the coyotes are taking a beating this year at the paws of the wolves. I have heard of multiple digging out of the coyote dens by the wolves by both the Druid and Slough packs. South gate opened Friday a.m. South gate closed Friday p.m. Reopened about noon on Saturday. I saw pictures of a grizzly sow with one coy crossing the road between Cooke City and Silver Gate earlier in the week. The gas in Cooke City is under $4.00 a gallon. $3.999. Sarah, or Rosie, the red ear tagged black bear at Tower has one black and one cinnamon cub this year. Seen a black bear with a limp (bad front paw) near Trout Lake (Wayne K thinks might be a birth defect, one appears longer than the other). Limps quite badly, but uses it for digging I'm told.

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