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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal ~ 2008 Trip Report Page

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ 13 - 15 June 2008 Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Friday - June 13th

It slowed down at work enough for me to leave at noon. The weather was supposed to be great and it was. The lows were around 35 and highs in the 60's. The breeze in the afternoon actually felt good. They opened Dunraven Pass earlier in the day so I went thru Canyon. I found Ralph and Sid on Antelope Creek. We spent two hours with no sightings are all, including the backside of Specimen Ridge. I moved towards Lamar. Stopping at Slough Creek, I found a large cinnamon bear in Crystal around 6:15 p.m. About 6:30 p.m. four and then a fifth wolf moved down slope and west from the Slough Creek den area (I hear eventually eight of them came down, crossed the river and headed west). AT 7:00 a.m. Ralph had the two sub adults out on Penny Lane (Bob L and Ralph N think these may be yearlings, Ralph had them in the road the other day and they are really small). At 7:15 p.m. Richard and Rita (Nebraska) made a great spot on a grizzly sow with two coys on the hill/mountain back of Cache Creek/Norris Mountain. They were near the top of the hill in short green grass and then traveled across a snow ridge. At 8:00 p.m. Rick M. called and told us about a grizzly apparently on an antelope calf on the clearing east of Square Meadow. At 8:20 a.m. Richard found a grizzly north of Coyote Overlook that Ralph had radio called in before he left the area. I stopped at Wrecker Pullout to rearrange the car for the evening so as not to make too much noise at the campground and found a nice sized grizzly from there at 9:20 p.m. Earlier in the evening I had a fox near Yellowstone Picnic Area, so with the wolves and coyote, I had a THREE DOG DAY.

Saturday - June 14th

At 6:15 a.m. I found a large grizzly on the top of Norris Mountain and it moved over to Penny Lane. At 7:00 a.m. I found Frank and Lou from Shelly at Slough Creek at the stop sign and they had two grizzlies high on the backside of Salad Bowl. Just a note here, I stayed at the Slough Creek stop sign for the rest of the day from 7:00 a.m. to after 9:00 p.m. We had bears out pretty much from 7:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and from about 5:30 p.m. to dark, with a couple of sightings from 10:30 a.m. to around 1:00 p.m. At 7:10 a.m. the wolf people called that a grizzly sow with one yearling cub was walking right in from of the den site, the gray yearling baby sitter sat up and watched them pass. 15 minutes later the wolf people called and spotted a large grizzly following the trail of the sow with yearling, again the gray yearling sat up and watched the grizzly pass. At 7:20 a.m. I saw the cinnamon black bear in Crystal Drainage. At 7:25 a.m. a large grizzly crossed the big clearing behind the old Crystal pen. This grizzly was hunting elk calves and re-crossed the clearing later, crossed and then re-crossed the triangle clearing above that clearing over the next two hours. At 7:30 a.m. had a sow grizzly with a large yearling cub high on the Divide Ridge (the middle hill viewed to the south from the stop sign (the one on the left or east is the back side of Salad Bowl and the one to the right or west is Specimen Ridge). At 7:35 a.m. a courting pair of black bears crossed the clearing beyond the old Crystal pen area, then crossed the backside of Salad Bowl, and then one re-crossed the backside of Salad Bowl, apparently the romance was open. At 8:00 a.m. Ralph found a grizzly with two coy's on Specimen Ridge (There has appeared a large hole/digging up on Specimen Ridge-- a day or two ago the wolves enlarged it). The bears appeared just above this den/hole/digging, maybe still using it at nights????? Around 9:00 a.m., we spotted a smaller colorful grizzly near Specimen Ridge. The sow with yearling reappeared to the east above the Slough Creek campsites. The single grizzly reappeared several times. During the evening the two wolves and pup were near the den site. The sow with yearling crossed back to the west and I heard a swan across the river in the Slough Creek bottoms. Saw a courting pair of grizzlies running in the clearing behind the Crystal pen area, with a black bear in the same clearing just grazing. The grizzly sow with two coy's was out around noon, and was spooked by a couple of hikers, but showed up again high behind the backside of salad bowl near dusk. Spotted three different black bears out south in Crystal, one was the large cinnamon bear. The courting pair of grizzlies split up, the boar stayed near the old pen area and the sow made a slow trip up Specimen Ridge and then went south on the ridge for some good viewing. The grizzly boar was grazing as the kimono bear feed that way. The boar sat and watched the cinnamon approach, and then the cinnamon spotted the boar and ran into the trees. At dark another (I think) courting pair appeared in the clearing beyond the old Crystal pen area. Both bears laid down a lot, only once did the boar approach and touch the sow, and she ran off a few yards. Both bedded when I left. On the way home, in the straight away in Little America a pronghorn antelope stepped right in front of the car. I never even had a chance to hit the brakes. It was dead on sight. I dragged it off the road, went to Tower and called the ranger. I didn't sleep too well Saturday night.

Sunday June 15th

The wolf people were at Trash Can watching a black wolf on a kill across the river south of Picnic area. I noticed two other wolves moving down from the north, both eventually crossed the road to the south. One other black moved farther east and south of the river. I spotted a large grizzly walking the tree line south of confluence and a black bear crossing Norris Mountain/Cache Creek. Saw a grizzly, I think, on the first finger of Norris. I found it just as the sun came up. The lighting was poor, but Richard and Rita thought it was a grizzly too. Back at Slough Creek stop sign I found a small black bear on the backside of Salad Bowl clearing low. Frank found a black bear west of Crystal then 15 minutes later found another one on the way travel route as the first (maybe a boar still tracking a sow???). We spotted the two adults and the puppy at the den site. Going home at Antelope Creek Calvin called that a grizzly with a lot of scars crossed the road north of trash can # 57. Ralph and I sat up on the pullout just north of #57 and Ralph located it after it re-crossed the road north of the gut road and crossed a big clearing. Old scar face is getting to be a large grizzly. He filled out a lot and was always a tall grizzly to start with.

Other news: The sand hill crane had at least one chick, but hasn't been seen lately at Floating Island. It was on the nest for 4-5 days prior to the disappearance. Coyote dens are showing up now with one near Phantom Lake, and one south of Midpoint. The wolf plane has located 24 plus pups in the Leopold Pack over near their traditional den area near Frog Rock. The plane was up today, Sunday, and no sightings at Antelope Creek on the Agates, not sure what that means yet. There have been moose with calves at Soda Butte picnic area, Warm Springs and a pair of twins was here at Trout Lake. Still really slow for grizzlies at Antelope Creek, and Hayden hasn't had a lot of grizzlies yet (two different sows with one large cub each, and a couple of large loners). I didn't check the osprey nests this weekend. I will have to update them this coming weekend. Apparently no pups were seen at the Druid den site yet (but Dead Puppy hill is in a closed area and the den site is apparently back in a more forested area this year, still north of footbridge.

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