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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

22 - 24 August 2008 Trip Report

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Friday - August 22nd

I left work at noon, and with the reduced traffic (slowing down now with the tourists), I made good time to Yellowstone. Found a campsite at Tower for the weekend and headed out for Lamar. At 5:00 p.m. found a grizzly in the high grass across the river south of the Institute. Really close to a few fishermen, but neither noticed or cared about the other. There were two fresh (since Monday) bison carcasses in the old Druid rendezvous area. Between 6:00 p.m. and dark, had two separate lone grizzlies, a sow with one large yearling and a sow with two coy's all in the area; along with 26 wolves (yep, the Druid's have bought back the pups to Lamar). We had interesting interaction between the wolves and the sow with two coy's (I missed a lot of the action, was sharing the scope at the time from trash can). The grizzly sow with two coy's came out of the trees from the east side of the rendezvous area. 9-10 wolves charged and in the confusion one of the cubs went the wrong way (one of the cubs went the right way with the sow). The wolves attacked and the cub found a tree. The cub tied to climb the tree but, twice was literally pulled down out the tree by a wolf. It finally made it up the tree and the grizzly sow and other cub came to the rescue. By the way, we did see the sow with both cubs Saturday a.m. and both looked fine. Nice quiet night at Tower and in the high 30's in the a.m. On the scanner I could hear that a grizzly was coming into last weekend's (11th day) bison carcass at Boulder Pond Pullout. Lots of rangers and a jam that I didn't see.

Saturday - August 23rd

5:30 a.m. with a half moon, I stopped at Boulder Pond and could make out the grizzly near the old bison carcass. I headed for Jackson Grade, just east of trash can pullout and hiked up the hill. Only Rick M. was ahead of me and he announced he had 5 grizzlies already spotted and we ended up with 22 wolves this morning (seven left around 7:00 a.m. moving to the east on a hunt, lost them near Soda Butte cone. Two large grizzlies were on the carcass (actually the first one was leaving). One wolf was trying to go to the carcass both the large grizzly didn't want to share. Once the first grizzly left, the sow with two coy's arrived out of the sagebrush and went to the carcass. She bluff charged, but the large one didn't even look up. Fortunately for everyone soon the large grizzly had enough and headed for the trees. The sow and cubs enjoyed the carcass for the next 30-40 minutes. Spotting around we decided we had four separate single grizzlies, two back near the tree line, plus the sow with two coy's. Glassing back towards the west, I located the sow with one large yearling moving west in the tree line south of Mid Point. Nine grizzlies from the same site, not bad for late August. Around 10:00 a.m. Alan and Sue, wolf watchers, located a large grizzly in the high grass south of Mid Point. He moved east and finally arrived at the carcass (not a lot left now) and went into the trees. He was out over an hour and several times real close to the river and fishermen. At 3:00 p.m. this grizzly reversed, came out of the trees and went back to the west providing a moving bear jam from trash can all the way to the Institute.

Sunday - August 24th

A few degrees warmer in the valley this morning, 32. Nothing on the carcass at Boulder Pond Pullout. Only 1 grizzly and 5 wolves at the rendezvous area this a.m. Kind of a mystery, with all the pups there, the others must have been in the trees. Around 6:45 a.m. I found a single black wolf high on Norris Mountain, all by itself.

Other news: Definitely a lot less tourists this weekend over last weekend. The sand hill cranes are bunching up now, saw two flocks of five and seven flying in Lamar.

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