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Trip Report ~ by Bill Hamblin

21 - 23 May 2010

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

~ May 2010 ~

Black bear by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

Friday - 21 May

The major news for the weekend was (1) the grizzly sow with four cubs of the year (coys) was back again, first on Bunsen Peak and later in the Hoodoo's (between Swan Lake Flats and Mammoth), (2) the carcass in Blacktail Lakes - there since mid April was found and pulled out by grizzlies and (3) cold weather, the high Saturday was 44 degrees.

I left work just before lunch and decided not to go over Dunraven Pass which opened this morning (closed Saturday morning) because I wanted to see the sow with 4 coys. No luck as I glassed Bunsen Peak for over an hour, then I saw a lot of people down near Africa Lake on the way to Mammoth. She was bedded out a ways, but decided not to walk and join all the photographers to see her. Ralph had a cinnamon black bear across from the Institute and I found a large grizzly near the den site at Slough Creek. The elk are calving, and I saw my first north of Coyote Overlook tonight. While at Swan Lake Flats I located three mountain goats way high, never had goats there before. A nice weasel crossed the road near Phantom Lake. Saw Dale and Elva taking pictures of a rudy crowned kinglet near Geode Creek. Tower Campground opened Friday and I stayed with Ralph.

Saturday - 22 May

A really slow day for bears all day. It rained during the night which meant snow above 6,500 feet or so. So at 7:15 AM they closed Dunraven Pass. At 7:30 AM I found the cinnamon bear south of the Institute. At 8:15 AM Wayne called and had the grizzly sow with one coy south near Specimen Ridge. She was out on and off for about 2 hours. At 8:20 AM made a good spot of a bear across from Slough Creek campground with my binocs, but had two bull bison outside the car so didn't get a scope on it. Probably a black bear. While watching the sow with coy, Ralph located a bear from Little America east and north probably above the Institute (3 miles plus). I did spent a little time watching wolves this morning. They opened the road down to the first pullout, and you can see the porch of the den from there. One black male came back and fed the gray female, then had at least three puppies running around after the female and then under foot on the male. Mid morning had a large dark grizzly high in the Salad Bowl, and as I glassed for other critters, the grizzly found and caught an elk calf. Of course I missed that, and the bear was in the tree line before I could look back. Towards evening it got cold and windy, but I found a small black bear near the wolf den site being pushed away up hill by the gray female wolf. Lastly I saw a black bear near Specimen Ridge viewed from Elk Creek and then just off the road a black bear at Rainy Lake near dark. Saturday night got down to 24 degrees in the campground.

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

Sunday - 23 May

There is a guy from Washington who comes in for a couple weeks in the spring and in the fall, who "camps out" at Coyote Overlook. Anyway, he had the same dark grizzly high in the Salad Bowl this morning. It was in sight several times, obviously hunting elk calves again. Around 7:00 AM I found a black bear in the Slough Creek bottoms. At 7:30 AM I spotted the grizzly sow with one coy near Specimen Ridge. Next I found a black wolf near Frog Rock (the S curve) howling. The blacktail carcass had a grizzly with a two year old cub and a large boar for several days (missed that). Then on Saturday the boar and sow ran the cub off and began courting right around the carcass (missed that, too), but this morning the romance might be over, as we viewed the sow running from the boar. We heard that the sow with four coys was in the same area as Friday, so around 9:45 AM joined the crowds near Africa Lake and I finally got to view her. The stories are right, four coy's. Three about the same size and one about half the size of the others. All looked fine, the little one a little slower in keeping up (shorter legs). Anne W. was watching them Saturday, and the small one couldn't get over a log, one of the others came back and hoisted it over. Other rumors are that the little one gets on the back of the sow from time to time, but did not see that this morning. They were in and out in view for well over an hour 500-600 yards I would guess.

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

Other News

The peregrine nest has three eggs. The osprey was on the nest, so unknown as to if she has anything yet. The Harlequin ducks - 9 pair still at LeHardy Rapids. The great horned owl still on nest at Mammoth (I missed it, but Wayne has seen it). A bull moose at Swan Lake. A cow moose below Elk Creek Pullout Saturday night. The elk are calving now, and the bears are hunting. A great Horned Owl near Rainy Lake (missed that). Sand Hill Cranes on nest at Floating Island Lake. A black bear with two or three coy's west end and south of Little America (missed that). No lambs at Calcite from the big horn ewes yet.

Wolves near Canyon by John William Uhler Copyright © All Rights Reserved

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