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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

15 - 17 August 2008 Trip Report

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Friday - August 15th

Weather nice with no chance of rain for the weekend. Although it was 37 degrees in Little America Sunday morning, the highs were in the 70's. I left work around noon and made good time. At 4:00 p.m. found a grizzly way back at Antelope Creek. The entire weekend was dominated by two bison carcasses in Little America. The first was at Boulder Lake pullout, and was a bull bison killed by another bull bison. The second was in the Lamar River viewed from Aspen Pullout. At 5:00 p.m. a black bear was on the west carcass at Boulder Lake. AT 5:15 p.m. a black bear north and east of Coyote Overlook. At 5:30 p.m. a gray wolf eating on the east carcass in the river. On the way to Silver Gate around 8:10 p.m. a grizzly sow with a large yearling cub north of Coyote Overlook. She appeared to want to cross, the Harley motorcycle traffic turned her away. I spent Friday night near Silver Gate.

Saturday - August 16th

I left camp around 4:00 a.m. With the full moon, Ralph N. had been seeing activity on the two carcasses before daylight. At 5:00 a.m. a black bear on the river carcass. Even in full moonlight the distance and being in the river made viewing difficult. Ralph stayed on the east carcass and I went to the west carcass. Ralph had a grizzly on that one but it left at 4:20 a.m. I did have 3 to 7 black wolves and a gray visiting the carcass and in the area. With the grass all golden, those black wolves showed up really well in the moonlight. Shortly after daylight the wolves moved back and actually bedded way across the Lamar / Soda Butte near their den site. Moving to Lamar, David from Bozeman found a grizzly in the low right edge of A-Z Meadow. Margaret from Bozeman was up too, and after 10 minutes we located one coy and then a few minutes later found the second coy. Boy are they still small for coy's in August. At 5:00 p.m. Margaret found a gray wolf on Jasper Bench viewed from Coyote Overlook. Near dark I headed from the Slough Creek stop sign and had a really large grizzly moving towards the carcass near the old Crystal pen. Moments later it showed up 100 yards north of the east Specimen Ridge trailhead. The rangers put everybody in their cars. I left soon after that, it's quite a circus in the mornings and evenings at the carcass sites. Found a campsite at Tower for the night.

Sunday - August 17th

Determined to see the grizzly on the carcass, I set the alarm for 3:15 a.m. Ralph had the large grizzly on the east carcass. I arrived before 4:00 a.m. and had a grizzly on the west carcass that moved off at 4:20 a.m. (it must have had a watch, moved off the same time two days in a row). Moving to the east carcass, I could see a grizzly on the carcass (not the big fella). I went back to the west and had two black wolves visit the carcass before daylight. Ralph had 8 and the grizzly on the east carcass, and the grizzly didn't share. It actually went to sleep on the carcass after all but one black wolf left the area. The wolves moved north again and were seen from Dave's Hill down in the bottoms. When Ralph left the east carcass for the west one about 4:10 a.m. a small black bear crossed the road from the carcass area going south. At 7:10 a.m. found a grizzly in No Bear Clearing south and east of the Institute.

Other news: Great visibility all weekend, but had smoke at Antelope Creek and Hayden on the way out - the LeHardy Fire must be stirring again. The ospreys have left the nest, but return often. With your visit in two weeks I might take next weekend off (second weekend since mid April that I will not visit Yellowstone). Rumors of no pups at Agate Creek pack this year.

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