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Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

06 - 09 May 2010

Black bear cubs by John William Uhler © Copyright All Rights Reserved

~ May 2010 ~

Thursday - 06 May

After missing last weekend because the roads were closed (due to a spring snow storm) between Madison and Mammoth on Friday when I would have went up, it was nice to find the roads open and clear this weekend. Yep, I took Friday off and left work about 4:30 PM. I found a small grizzly off the road near the Moose Exhibit south of Indian Creek Campground. Then had a large grizzly in Swan Lake Flats near dark. I stayed at Mammoth Campground for the evening, first time I got cold in a long time (probably because I was too lazy to zip up the sleeping bag).

Black bear cubs by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Friday - 07 May

It was 17 degrees and breezy when I left the campground just before 5:00 AM. I spotted a fox with its mouth full of mice or voles near Hellroaring Overlook, so ended the day with a THREE DOG DAY (lots of coyotes and a few wolves later). At 6:30 AM I found a grizzly moving west on Mom's Ridge viewed from Long Pullout. At 9:30 AM I heard from Jim from Iowa and Bill and Jan from Kansas that they had bears in Lamar. A nice size grizzly moving east across the Lamar River viewed from Trashcan. I found a little grizzly north of the road who disappeared then reappeared and was good viewing for about 1/2 hour. Later I found another grizzly near the tree line near the rendezvous area. There was an old carcass south of the confluence, and soon the alpha male from the Silver pack was located moving back to their den site in the trees. We then located the small grizzly heading to the carcass area (like most carcass area's just over a hill and out of sight). Ten minutes later the larger grizzly followed the small grizzly to the carcass. The alpha female then left the area and soon the small grizzly followed by the larger grizzly. The larger followed and soon the smaller turned and 45 minutes of wrestling followed. Didn't look like courting behavior, but might have been. They were last seen, the larger following the smaller into the trees. Around 2:00 PM I found a large dark spot up Slough Creek, that I wrote off as a bison the first pass thru, but it got up and was a large grizzly. At 6:00 PM I found a grizzly grazing south and across the river from the Institute. At 6:30 PM I located a grizzly sow with two yearlings northeast of Slough Creek above the campground (I hear they have been in the area for a few days). I stayed outside the park near Gardiner tonight, and it was a lot warmer (about 33 at daylight).

Saturday - 08 May

Black bear cubs by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Around 8:30 AM I heard of wolf activity from Wrecker. I arrived to find a gray and a coyote on a out of sight carcass with a coyote trying to get a piece of action. Apparently there was also a black wolf on it before I arrived. Calvin then located a black wolf across the river. Then four wolves (3 gray and 1 black) were located on top the the Basalt Cliff. These were thin looking, and probably part of the five unknown pack (possibly Cottonwood Pack) that had showed up on the slopes of Hellroaring during the last week. During all this action, I did find a grizzly moving away from the Basalt Cliff. I spent the middle part of the day watching the grizzly sow with two yearlings across and above the Slough Creek campground. They never moved out of the scope, except one time they stood up and ran off a 100 yards or so, then returned when they assumed there was no threat. In early afternoon, I heard that a grizzly sow with one cub of the year (coy) was viewed on top of Junction Butte. I headed for Tower Junction, and with the help of Calvin and Lynette located them right on top of the north end of the butte. The coy is still smaller than a raven. While watching the grizzly and coy, a black bear walked thru the clearing in front of us and went up the road towards Tower Store. At 2:00 PM I spotted a small black bear near the Yellowstone Picnic area. The weather changed and a front was moving in for the evening. Just before it hit, I found a large and small grizzly crossing the Specimen Ridge trail (the trail that goes up the nice clearing all the way to the top). The large one was big, so assume a courting pair (but I never saw them again). As evening fell, I sighted a black bear at Hellroaring Overlook near dark, and a nice grizzly west of Frog Rock on my way in.

Sunday - 09 May

Warmer yet as I camped outside near Gardiner again. At 5:55 AM I stopped to glass from Curve Pullout, I found a grizzly in the sagebrush waiting to cross the road. I moved to Boulder to allow it to cross, but another car came and it decided to move back to the north. I was worried as it headed towards Junction Butte where the sow and coy are, but Laurie from Helena later saw it across the river at Buffalo Ford. A lot of fog in the valley this morning, but I found a grizzly southeast of Dorothy's Knoll before the fog set in again. At 7:20 AM I found a nice sized grizzly with short brown hair on its behind coming down Crystal Drainage. I called Laurie from Helena down, and it crossed the road near Aspen Pullout. Meanwhile I heard the grizzly sow with two yearlings had moved to the Lion Meadow from where they were yesterday. I was going to walk down to Bob's Knob, but realized I could see them from the Slough Creek Parking lot. Leaving the lot, Laurie called me to Long Pullout, but called back, it was the same grizzly had re-crossed the road and was now going south from Long Pullout. Heard that the grizzly sow with coy was visible from Wrecker Pullout, and we got a 1-2 minute look. It was now off the top and just before the basalt part of the butte. Calvin and Lynette had called, they also had the two male wolves, 754M and 755M from 755's Group (sorry I think I called them 255 and 254 last report). When I arrived only one was left in view, the other had left going east towards the den area. On the way out, a nice road side grizzly south of Indian Creek campground.

Black bear cubs by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Other News

Tons of bison calves down now. The uinta ground squirrels are everywhere. Been rumors of a injured grizzly with possible porcupine quills in its paws, coming too close to people between Mammoth and Norris. East gate opened this weekend. The road to Tower Store opens next weekend.

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