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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

17 - 20 July 2008 Trip Report

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Thursday - July 17th

Kind of slow at work, so took Friday off and made it a three day weekend. AT 7:30 p.m. a bear jam mile mile south of Dunraven Pass had a cinnamon bear. At 8:10 p.m. had a black bear at Boulder Pullout. I headed to Silver Gate for the evening arriving just before dark. There had been a grizzly bear in the Soda Butte Campground just outside of Cooke City the night before. Grabbed a 59 year old man by the hand and broke his wrist. Then came back and trashed a tent in the same campground, the women had left the tent for the car after the first attack on the man. Brian C. was in the campground but a ways away from the area. I found Ralph in a usual camping spot, just outside the Northeast Entrance. He had been up since earlier in the day and had found more bears than I had. We headed for bed. I got up for around 2:10 a.m. and the moon was full and bright, but heading behind the mountain. At 2:35 a.m. Ralph, driving his car up to mine woke me up explaining he had had a bear visiting him. Apparently around 2:30 a.m. he was awoken by something hitting the car. He was sleeping with his windows up, because of mosquitoes, and had a little moisture on the windows hindering visability. The bear jumped on his hood with both front feet. Ralph hit the horn, hollered at the bear, and banged on the windows. The bear didn't leave. It got off the front hood, but returned again. Then it stood up several times and then moved away out of site. During all this time, only 10 yards away and with my windows down, I never woke up. We both left the area, finishing the night elsewhere. In the morning Ralph showed me the prints of the front paws of the bear (apparently it crossed a mud patch and left nice prints on Ralph's hood. Later in the morning, Jim Halfpenny was out and determined that the bear was a large grizzly (all the time on the front hood, the bears head was above the window and out of sight to Ralph - Ralph couldn't tell if the bear was black or grizzly, but only that it was large). Apparently Friday night / Saturday morning the bear struck again 1/2 away mile from Silver Gate getting into a vehicle. The paw prints on the hood remained most of the weekend, even during the Friday night showers.

Friday - July 18th

At 6:10 a.m. Ralph found the grizzly sow with the two coy's in the bowl south and west of the Institute. At 6:30 a.m. Ralph had two grizzlies north of Coyote Overlook, I arrived late and only saw one of them. At 7:00 a.m. a smaller grizzly on A-Z meadow. AT 7:30 a.m. a lone grizzly grazing above the sow with two coy's (this happened a week or two ago too, the sow must know this lone grizzly, appears about the same size as her, maybe a little bigger). At 8:35 a.m. the black bear with two coy's low in Square Meadow south of the Institute (I found this family, Ralph was in Tower making out his bear report) (Another note: Saturday this black bear with two coy's was at the confluence, sleeping in a large cottonwood just across the river. At 10:30 a.m. a black bear at Boulder Pullout. At 4:15 p.m. a blond grizzly below trash can # 57 in Antelope Creek--what a bear jam there. At 5:45 p.m. five wolves moved from the Slough Creek den area towards the river (but bedded out of sight behind a hill close to the bottom's). At 8:15 p.m. a small black bear in the Slough Creek bottoms. Ralph didn't want to camp near Silver Gate, so he found a campsite in Tower for Friday and Saturday nights.

Saturday - July 19th

Four black wolves in the Slough Creek area. Pretty much fogged in this morning and was around 7:30 a.m. before we found the grizzly sow with two coy's in about the same place as yesterday morning. At 8:00 a.m. found a large grizzly just across the river south of midpoint (the grass is getting really high in most places. This bear was only visible once in a while until it decided to go the west and out into the sagebrush. 3:00 p.m the black bear with two coy's up a tree at the confluence. From 4:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. the blond grizzly was in the Antelope Creek bottoms.

Sunday - July 20th

At 5:45 a.m. Ralph found three black Slough wolves south of fisherman's. At 6:15 a.m. the sow with two coy's in the same area as the last two days south and west of the Institute in the bowl. A large grizzly south of midpoint. On the way out, found a small grizzly in the gap at Antelope Creek. Then a blond grizzly just south of Dunraven Pass (out for over two hours digging 800 yards or so off the road on the west hills).

Other news: The three campgrounds above Cooke City were closed because of the bear. The bigger one a few miles from Cooke City was made hard sided campers only. They set up two bear traps in the Soda Butte Campground and another one later near Silver Gate. Ralph found a falcon nest across the river from the good peregrine nest, After only two days of asking for someone who knew falcons, we determines they are prairie falcons (four big chicks--I never saw any adults). The lone Slough Creek pup has not been seen in 3-4 days now. Others have been seeing wolves from Hellroaring Overlook - the Oxbows, and from Frog Rock - the Leopolds, both sightings have included pups. The two osprey chicks are really growing now. The Druids have been gone for days now, up Cache Creek. I did have a three dog day on Saturday with a little fox in the road before first light near the Yellowstone Picnic area. The golden eagle chick down Slough Creek road is huge now.

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