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Yellowstone Up Close and Personal

26 - 28 September 2008 Trip Report

Bear and Wolf Sightings ~ Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

Friday - September 26th

Had a lunch engagement for someone leaving the office, so got on the road about 1:30 p.m. I had three moose, two cows and a calf in the Island Park pond that usually has Trumpeter Swans in it. A herd of 12-15 pronghorn antelope on the north end of Island Park, it's mating season for the antelope now. Going by Tuff Cliff, I saw three fishermen watching an osprey that had just plucked a fish from the Gibbon River. Arriving in Lamar Valley, I just missed the night's action. Apparently a cow moose wandered out into the Druid rendezvous area, and 11 wolves chased it into the river corridor. When I arrived the 11 wolves were returning, apparently unsuccessful in the chase, and joined 6 other wolves that hadn't entered the chase. Someone soon noticed a grizzly way back in the rendezvous area. He was out the rest of the evening and at dark crossed just across the river from the old Lamar picnic area. He as a big one. I found a campsite in Tower for the weekend. Temperatures in the low 30's at camp and in the high 20's out in the valley.

Saturday - September 27th

Well a pretty slow day. The Druid's left this a.m. east, someone saw them in Round Prairie just before dawn, and only one pup got left behind near the old Druid den area. It spent most of the morning howling for any of the wolves, but they all were gone. The Slough's were up and out of sight also. Late morning watching no bears and no wolves at Antelope Creek, Kela H. stopped by on her way to the Mammoth area. She looked good, and was with a friend who had taken pictures with Jim for 30 years. They were heading for the west side of the park for the elk and the rut. I decided to do Hayden Valley in the mid day and was surprised to find a large black wolf from the grizzly overlook. Anne W. happened by, so showed her it. She and a friend were stopping for lunch at Otter Creek, so I went along to eat my soggy Subway sandwich. After lunch I headed back to the grizzly overlook and found five wolves - two black and three gray. Anne was gazing up at Canyon, had her radio on, and she heard me and returned. A mystery, the old Hayden 2 group, now officially called the Hayden Pack, only has one black, so wasn't them. Could have been the Mollies, or the Gibbon Pack (they moved thru Hayden Valley 2 1/2 weeks ago with 26 wolves; or maybe the Agates, who usually are at Antelope Creek, but have been roaming a lot lately. The Agate's were still on the slopes of Hellroaring chasing the Oxbow pack a few days ago. On the way back to camp, just as I turned at Tower Junction, I had a mule deer doe with three fawns, she was nursing one of them and the two others wanted some too. Finally she moved off the road, and I noticed another doe behind them, so assume one had twins and one had a single.

Sunday - September 28th

Only two Druid pups left at the rendezvous area this morning. One black from yesterday and another gray (apparently was hiding out in the trees all day yesterday). Soon after had a chorus of howling to the north and west of Coyote Overlook. Couldn't see them from Fisherman's, Coyote or Dorothy's Knoll, but Rick could see them from the Institute (they were in the Secret Passage area that runs between Lamar and Slough Creek on the north side of the road). Soon they were visible from Coyote Overlook. 8 or so moved west, out of sight until appearing north of Dorothy's Knoll. Then two others crossed closer to the road. Everyone assumed that we were watching the Slough wolves, but they turned out to be the Druid's. If fact the Sloughs were in Secret Passage and Rick saw a few, so assume the Druid's were chasing Slough's again. Quite a bit of action as I left for home, with the pups howling, the adults howling and the adults trying to cross the road to join the pups.

Other news: They have been paving Tower Junction to Tower store road. Got to the bottom of Calcite curve to the Junction done; and from the osprey nest to the store done. Just a 1/4 mile stretch left unfinished at Calcite now. Rumors that the large grizzly that was killed in Silver Gate was definitely Thumper (the grizzly that use to jump on tents a few years ago), remember we had him just off the road at Barronnette one morning after he came thru the Northeast Gate earlier in the morning. This is probably the grizzly that jumped on Ralph's car in the middle of the night. Ralph had seen him earlier this year or last year and he had become a large grizzly. Saturday was the free admission, no entrance fee day, so was crowded with a lot of locals on a one day trip thru the park. Lots of wolf watchers up now: Bill and Jan from Kansas, Jim and Joellen from Iowa, Anne W. from Colorado, Mark and Carol from Colorado, Alan and Sue from Colorado. Also two weekends ago, had two bear watchers up. Mark S from Minnesota and Larry M from Utah, really nice to have a few bear watchers, even if there were few bears to be seen. There was a large grizzly south of Dunraven Pass on the road Saturday night and a grizzly in the rendezvous area of the Druid's Saturday a.m. but I missed both of them.

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